It’s beautiful – but does that mean it deserves mercy?
Okay, we’ll admit it: the spotted lanternfly is beautiful, despite being invasive and devastating to vines and fruit trees. But does it therefore deserve grace?
Native to Asia, these crabhoppers were first spotted on US soil in 2014. They have since spread to a dozen states, and the threat they pose to agriculture has been significant in affected regions. In response, a number of states have issued kill orders for the insidious bugs. but The New York Times Some residents are reportedly rebelling against the kill orders — and frankly, much of the resistance smacks of pretty privilege.
It’s one thing to resist the bug bloodlust for religious reasons. We also understand that some people are squeamish about the awful crunch of killing one of the pests, and that NYT reports that many people are simply put off by the joy many get from crushing the invaders. Totally understandable!
However, many lanternfly sympathizers seem to find them just too aesthetically pleasing to kill – despite the fact that they have almost completely wiped out some farming operations, particularly East Coast wineries.
“If someone said, ‘Oh, we have to kill all the Pomeranians, people might think very differently,’” said New York-based software developer Jody Smith NYT.
Smith, a vegan, told the publication that he refrains from crushing lanternflies because he doesn’t appreciate that they’re considered expendable, although he also added that does murders cockroaches who appear to fail his Pomeranian morale test.
With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine that a less beautiful beetle – rather than something more akin to a butterfly – would enjoy the same treatment. If a nasty looking pest were decimating vineyards and orchards in Pennsylvania and beyond, like the spotted lanternfly is now, residents would surely forbid wiping out these bad guys left and right.
“We can understand the reluctance to kill the spotted lanternfly, which appears colorful and harmless,” said Chris Logue, director of the crop industry for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets NYT. “However, the damage this invasive species can do by damaging important crops and disrupting our food system is real.”
CONTINUE READING: In the Lanternfly War, some side with the Bug [The New York Times]
More on invasive species: Florida officials alerted by invasion of giant snails that can cause meningitis