Zapping Lanternflies | God's World News

It's our June giving drive! Help more kids see God at work in the culture.

Zapping Lanternflies
Critter File
Posted: May 01, 2024
  • 1 Selina k
    Selina Zhang stands in front of her ArTreeficial. It attracts spotted lanternflies. (Courtesy of Selina Zhang)
  • 2 Selina k
    This spotted lanternfly is on a maple tree in Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)
  • 3 Selina k
    Zhang hopes to use many of her pretend trees in an ArTreeForest. They could zap more pests! (Courtesy of Selina Zhang)
  • 4 Selina k2
    A spotted lanternfly climbs a pole in Pennsylvania. (AP/David Boe)
  • 1 Selina k
  • 2 Selina k
  • 3 Selina k
  • 4 Selina k2


You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining.

The bad news: You've hit your limit of free articles.
The good news: You can receive full access below.
WORLDkids | Ages 7-10 | $35.88 per year

Already a member? Sign in.

Don’t be fooled by their cheerful red underwings and black polka dots. Spotted lanternflies are pests! Selina Zhang first noticed the tiny invaders when she was in elementary school in Annandale, New Jersey. Selina, who is now 18, made up her mind to fight back.

Spotted lanternflies belong in Asia. They likely came to the United States as egg masses on a stone shipment in 2012. People spotted the bugs in 2014 in Pennsylvania. Now these pests cause havoc in at least 17 states.

Lanternflies are hoppers. They leap from plant to plant to suck up sap. Their mouth parts stab stems and leaves. They also make waste called honeydew. This sticky goop gathers on plants and can cause disease. It also blocks sunlight.

The lanternfly’s main predators are wasps in China. Most man-made efforts to get rid of lanternflies have challenges. Insecticides can kill pollinators like honeybees. Sticky bands are strips that wrap around tree trunks to trap pests. But they can trap other harmless insects, birds, and small animals too.

Selina decided to lure the moth-like creatures. Lanternflies have a favorite host plant in China: the tree of heaven. Selina made a fake tree from her family’s patio umbrella. It releases a smell like the tree of heaven. She calls her creation ArTreeficial.

Here, lanternflies!

Next, she made a double net for her pretend, solar-powered tree. The outer net catches lanternflies’ legs. The inner net is electrified. Selina programmed artificial intelligence (AI) with photos of spotted lanternflies. When one steps on the inner net, AI recognizes it. Zap! Bye bye, bug!

Selina hopes to make a network called “ArTreeForest.” Then many of her “trees” could fight pests at once.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. — 1 Peter 4:10

Why? God gives us creative minds to tackle challenges. Invasive species demand innovative solutions.