The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Campus Life | Return of the Lanternflies

Campus Life is a biweekly blog about the everyday things happening around Pitt’s campus.
Campus+Life+%7C+Return+of+the+Lanternflies
TPN File Illustration

If you’ve been walking around campus lately, you’ve likely encountered the presence of lanternflies. These invasive insects were first introduced to Pennsylvania in 2014 and made their way to Pittsburgh in 2019. However, this is the worst they have been in a few years. Despite being harmless to humans in terms of biting or direct harm, they have a tendency to leap onto people. Their primary threat lies in the damage they inflict on crops, trees, and plants.

During my recent summer stay in Pittsburgh for classes, I had to sublet a room at a friend’s house. I found myself dreading the daily commute to and from class because their entire staircase would be covered with lanternfly offspring. Interestingly, these young lanternflies resemble spiders. They begin as dark, spider-like bugs called nymphs adorned with white spots, before assuming the appearance of the typical lanternfly we see on campus. 

The black bugs were easy to kill since they could not jump—however, the red ones would hop on you, and it was very scary. The sight of so many bugs was quite unsettling, especially since we initially mistook them for something else. Eventually, it reached a point where we were hesitant to even leave the house. When we heard that lavender essential oil could possibly get rid of them, we decided to spray both the interior and exterior of the house with it. While we did observe a decrease in their numbers, the oil didn’t entirely get rid of them.

Lanternflies have been diminishing the beauty of Pitt’s campus, especially for the highschoolers that are touring Pitt right now. Fall is the time that campus is supposed to be exciting because the school year is starting up again and these bugs are ruining that for everyone. I am not sure what the people that are touring campus think, but hopefully this does not sway their decision to come to Pitt. A few of my friends are terrified of bugs — including me — and we tend to jump at the sight of them flying at us, which is quite terrifying.

One concerning aspect of lanternflies is their lack of fear for humans. They have a habit of jumping onto people, but not jumping away from you. I’ve experienced numerous instances where my friends and I have been walking to class only to find these insects constantly landing on us. Sometimes, I can even feel them settling on my hair, which is such an uneasy feeling. Fortunately, I don’t have a balcony, but my neighbor’s patio is currently covered with them, preventing her from going on it. 

Lanternflies typically lay their eggs on surfaces such as trees and cars during the winter time. In the spring and summer, they become nymphs. They become a full adult around fall and typically live up to a year. This came as a surprise to me, since most insects and bugs live for less than a year because they cannot survive the winter. 

I have seen many people using sticky band traps to catch lanternflies on trees and their homes. These traps capture lanternflies when they jump or fly. I think it’s a smart idea, and more people in the South Oakland area should give it a try to reduce these bugs. I recently went to Shadyside and Squirrel Hill and noticed there were hardly any lanternflies there. I was confused, but after talking to some friends, I found out that it’s because lanternflies’ favorite trees, like apple and grape trees, are common in South Oakland. Unfortunately for us, there are also a lot of those trees around our campus.

Lanternflies have indeed become a significant concern both on our campus and in South Oakland. Even though they are not harmful to us, they can damage plants and trees. Hopefully as it gets colder, they will slowly start to die and we won’t have to deal with them in a couple of months. 

 

Shriya writes primarily about her everyday experiences on Pitt’s campus. Talk to them at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Shriya Yadamreddi, Senior Staff Writer