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Invasive insect makes way to Kansas, prompts federal investigation

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:27 PM CDT
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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KWCH) - An invasive insect, not native to Kansas, was found in the state and is part of a display this week at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. A 4-H student from northwest Kansas found and identified the insect, which has prompted an investigation from the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pinpoint exactly where it was found.

The insect, called a spotted lanternfly, is from Asia, but its’ been found in the northeast United State causing damage to trees and agriculture. Now it’s been found more than 1,400 miles away in The Sunflower State. A 4-H student in Thomas County, near Colby, found and correctly identified the spotted lanternfly.

“It’s great that this young (4-H student) no only noticed the insect, but had it correctly labeled,” said Kansas Department of Agriculture Director of Communications Heather Lansdowne. “So obviously, a student who knows a lot about entomology. It’s wonderful. Now we’re able to follow up and do some surveying in the area and look to see if that insect is established in that area.”

Kansas State University Entomology Professor Dr. Raymond Cloyd said the spotted lanternfly is “a very destructive insect pest” that entered Pennsylvania in 2014. Penn State Extension shared photos of the invasive insect. It said the heaviest infestations occur in eastern Pennsylvania.

“The eggs of the female are greyish. They’re laid on wood and structures and it’s very easy that somebody coming from the east, going to the Midwest could transport (it), just like the gypsy moth.”

To learn more about the spotted lanternfly, entomologists recommend visiting www.hungrypests.com.

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