When catching the invasive spotted lanternfly is science homework

Photo of students in a classroom working in groups of four at desks with boxes and worksheets depicting spotted lantern flies.The projection of the screen in front of the class reads "6-8 Design problem Crested Crow Eng."
Branchburg Middle School students launch the Lantern Fly Trap Challenge. Credit: Danielle Puglisi

An invasive alien species, the spotted lanternfly was first introduced to the United States in Pennsylvania around 2014. Adults are about an inch long and are characterized by strikingly spotted forewings and showy red spots on the hindwings. However, they are also very hungry and pose a significant threat to agricultural crops, including grapes.

Many control efforts have focused on stomping insects on sight, or finding and destroying the egg masses that lantern flies lay in the fall. One, a sticky band wrapped around trees, is effective, but can also trap other insects and even birds.Penn State Extension experts recommend an existing band for pecan weevils. He came up with a new style of circle his trap for lantern flies, based on the trap of . Now, her STEM educator at Rutgers University uses that design as a starting point for engineering design challenges, asking K-12 teachers and students to come up with improvements to the design.

Students will be given basic information about the snail, its life stages, preferred food and habitat, and its behavior. We then present design principles and materials that can be used to prototype, build, and test traps. Her iSTEM coordinator at Rutgers University Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education in Piscataway, New Jersey, Dr. Brielle Kociolek, joins her Ira to talk about the program and share some of the student innovations.

Photo of three middle school students standing with handmade wooden traps in their hands
Branchburg Middle School students present their Lantern Fly Trap designs. Credit: Danielle Puglisi
Photo of two middle school students using string to tie their homemade bug traps to tree branches
Students testing lantern fly trap designs on local trees. Credit: Danielle Puglisi


  • Want to join the fight against invasive lantern flies? Identify and rake egg cases, control your favorite food source, the Tree of Heaven to control populations, or build your own circle trap. Learn how to do
  • Teachers interested in adding lanternfly design challenges to their classrooms can enroll in professional development workshops through the Rutgers University Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education.

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