'SQUISH IT!' Scientists calling on everyone to kill spotted lanternflies on sight

HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family is taking matters into their own hands after finding their spotted lanternfly problem only keeps getting bigger.

They're easy to spot with their white dots and red backs. Before last summer, spotted lanternflies had never been in Giancarlo Podio's Huntingdon Valley yard.

"These nets completely fill up by the evening. There's no more room for them," he explained, describing a trap made of rubber and netting from his 3D printer.

He says he has thousands of spotted lanternflies and they're multiplying.

Entomologists say this is the time of year lanternflies transition from nymphs to adults.

"They were literally everywhere. Like the tree was literally more lanternflies than it was tree at that point. It was ridiculous," said Podio's son, Nicola.

"I like solving problems and this one presented itself in my backyard, so it's just another project. It's just something else to keep us busy-- a good distraction from COVID-19," said Podio.

Researchers with the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University say the real danger is the effect the bug can have on plants.

"They're a type of plant hopper that feeds on vines, but also some of our trees, like black walnuts and maples," said Karen Verderame with the Academy of Natural Sciences.

"Usually we like to say to respect wildlife, but the best thing to do if you see one is to squish it," she said.

With thousands of dead bugs on their tree's base, the Podio's just hope nature will take over.

"I spread them around the base of the trees. I see a lot of birds and other insects coming to eat them. So I'm kind of hoping one of them will develop a taste for them and start hunting them," said Podio.

The Department of Agriculture is asking anyone who has an infestation to report it so it can trace and contain the bug.
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