Squished! Jersey City middle school student discovers way to battle spotted lanternfly invasion
With invasive spotted lanternflies swarming again this summer, New Jersey residents are advised to stomp the harmful creatures on sight whenever they can.
It's often easier said than done. Those things are quick. They seem to sense you coming and jump out of the way just before your foot comes down on top of them.
But one middle schooler from Jersey City used scientific methods to find why spotted lanternflies are a problem we need to attack head-on.
Milan Zhu, an incoming eighth grader at Rafael de J. Cordero school in Jersey City, used a microscope to determine that while the flies have small hair-like sensory organs on their wings, they have none on their heads.
She wondered if those small hairs, called setae, might make them able to sense when a person's foot was about to turn them into mush.
When she and her family hit the lanternfly-infested sidewalk outside their apartment building to test the theory, the results were stunning – 84% of those attacked head-on were killed.
Of the 50 they approached from the back or sides, only 40% were killed.
On today's episode of Positively New Jersey, we meet the student who spent her summer finding a way for all New Jerseyans to better perform their civic duty of squashing these invasive insects.