A Lanternfly was spotted. Discover the NJ Teen Responsible for the Perfect Squish
13-year-old Milan Zhu, a New Jersey student entering the eighth grade, researched the most effective ways to combat the invasive Spotted Lanternfly.

A youngster from New Jersey has taken matters into her own hands—or, more specifically, feet—in order to solve the Spotted Lanternfly issue.

The 13-year-old budding field scientist advises attacking the head directly when battling a gorgeously colourful yet hazardous insect that is now causing worry in New Jersey and New York.

One of many people in the tri-state area who have discovered the problematic virus in recent weeks is Milan Zhu, who will be entering eighth grade at Jersey City’s Rafael de J. Cordero Elementary School. Her first meeting, which occurred after the bug managed to infiltrate her home by roughly 30 storeys, happened nearby, namely right outside the window of her flat.

Zhu told NBC New York that the apartment complex she lives in is “just infected with them; they’re everywhere.”

This girl began studying the bugs under a microscope the school’s science department had provided her after many rounds of crushing. Zhu spotted tiny projections like hair, known as setae, covering the top and edge of the wings.

In a subsequent theory, the young scientist proposed that these bristle structures are utilised by insects to detect predators by measuring wind pressure and speed. This allows the insect to time its escape from danger perfectly. Zhu came to the conclusion that going head first and avoiding contact with the wings and setae was the most successful strategy for crushing the creature.

“The Spotted Lanternfly can monitor when people stomp on the wings, allowing it to know when to fly away. They have eyes that can tell when to dodge when you tread on the head, but they don’t realise that you’re truly on top of them, observed Zhu, who experimented with this head-on squashing technique on her family.

Only 20 lanternflies were destroyed out of 50 attempts at side and rear squishing. 42 of the 50 impacts when attacking with a head-first strategy were successful in eliminating the plant hoppers.

Zhu says that while walking on these insects will just make a dent in the expanding issue, “the ideal approach is to educate people on how they may effectively eliminate these bothersome invaders.”

According to the New York State Dept. of Agriculture, the Spotted Lanternfly may have travelled to Pennsylvania in 2014 on a stone cargo originating from China. The insect was initially discovered on Staten Island, New York, two years ago, and it has now moved farther into Long Island and Rockland County.

The species feeds on more than 70 different types of plants, including grapevine, which might be disastrous for the economy and agriculture. The New York Wine and Grape Foundation estimates that the state’s wine sector generates about $6.65 billion in economic benefits.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, looking at the 2017 New York state budget, is arguing for an additional $22 million, on top of the $200 million currently in the Department of Transportation’s possession.

There are more ways to combat bugs besides simply walking on them. A few were provided by the Montgomery Township in Somerset County, including the use of vinegar spray, the removal of vermin, and the use of milkweed bait.

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