A Bright Spot with Spotted Lanternfly

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It may be wise to be skeptical when hearing news that a native bio-ally is coming to our rescue in dealing with a non-native insect pest.  Disappointments abound.  Non-native juggernauts may steamroll because our native predators, parasitoids, and pathogens (the 3-Ps) just don't recognize them as a food source.


Of course, sometimes they eventually do.  Good examples are Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) and gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar).  In many parts of the U.S., these non-natives now behave much like natives with periodical outbreaks eventually crashing because of the 3-Ps as well as environmental challenges.


That's why cautious optimism may be justified with recent news about a discovery near Reading, PA, of two native fungal insect pathogens hammering spotted lanternfly (SLF) (Lycorma delicatula).  The two unrelated native fungi were Batkoa major and Beauveria bassiana and they produced two different diseases that significantly reduced the SLF population.


The research was published on April 22, 2019, in PNAS:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.  Quoting from the research paper:  "This coepizootic occurred when females were gravid but before most oviposition, and due to the massive L. delicatula mortality, only 12 egg masses were found."


You can read the entire paper by clicking this hotlink:  https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/04/24/1903579116


You can also read a nice summary with quotes and informative perspectives from two of the paper's authors, Eric Clifton and Ann Hajek, by clicking this hotlink: