Scientists in Delaware import wasps from China to fight spotted lanternflies

DOVER, Delaware (WPVI) -- Inside the quarantine section at a USDA lab in Newark, Delaware could be a solution to the spotted lanternfly invasion.

There, scientists like Dr. Kim Hoelmer, a research entomologist, are experimenting on an exotic wasp not yet allowed to be released in the US.

"We do know that these two wasps are important natural enemies of the lanternfly in China, so we hope to find they're safe enough to release here," said Dr. Hoelmer.

The full-grown wasps are about the size of a fingernail. Dr. Hoelmer says the pest doesn't sting humans or pets, they attack only spotted lanternflies. The experiment is expected to last about three years.

The research is in its early stages with the wasps still in cocoons, but it seems the researchers are seeing early success. It could take about three years before the wasps are approved to be released. Until then, Dr. Hoelmer offered advice for anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly.

"If it makes you feel better, you can step on it. It won't have a big impact on the current population, but it makes you feel good," he said.
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