COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio State University (OSU) and Pennsylvania State University (PSU) are teaming up to educate football fans about a pesky problem, spotted lantern flies.
The invasive insect is native to Asia and was first found in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania. Recently, more have been found in Ohio and other states. They’ve been found in at least ten Ohio counties, including Franklin, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).
“Spotted lantern fly also does a really good job of hitchhiking along with people on transportation corridors so pretty much all of the infestation that’s been found in Ohio to date has either been near a railroad or near a highway,” said Jonathan Shields, Agriculture Inspection Manager with ODA.
The bugs can be harmful to fruit plants like grapes, apples, and other trees. The OSU College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences is holding a “Help us Punt the Pest” event before the OSU-PSU game. Experts will be out educating people about the fly.
“It’s just a good opportunity to get out there and talk with tailgaters and other folks about what spotted lantern fly looks like, how to properly check your car when entering or leaving an area that has a spotted lantern fly infestation,” said Carrie Brown, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator with OSU. “And how to report it and how to make sure you’re collecting some sort of evidence.”
Given how the bugs often travel, experts thought being out at tailgates would be a good way to reach a lot of people.
“As with anything, they’re best managed when we know about them quickly. And more times than not because this is kind of a distinct looking insect its the public that are finding it first so if they know what it is, they know how to report it, then there’s a better chance we’re going to be able to catch infestations early,” said Jennifer Andon, Program Manager of OSU’s Master Gardener Program.
Andon said PSU has shared informational materials with OSU because it had more experience with the spotted lantern fly.
“The most important thing is that these spotted lantern fly aren’t harmful to people. They don’t bite or sting, so there’s not a reason to be afraid of them. So you can catch them, you can squash them by stepping on them,” Shields said.
He also encouraged people to report them to ODA if found outside areas where they’re already known.