New faces have arrived on campus, and the buzz is hot.
It was expected the admissions committee would accept a larger pool of applicants this year, but returning students were not prepared for the crowded campus environment. It seems impossible to go anywhere without one of the new students tagging along.
Just last week, a local student reported a clique of 200 of the new locals outside of the library. Upon first glance, it looked as though the tiny visitors were enjoying a nice sunbath, but their sunbathing session was cut short by the stomping of a professor’s shoe.
Welcome to Lehigh.
These new faces are not students, and they are not our friends. They are spotted lanternflies.
The invasive species comes from Southeast Asia, and its members chew through tree bark and fruit. The lanternflies pose a great threat to the Lehigh Valley ecosystem.
Unfamiliar to birds and other natural predators, lanternflies have dominated the valley without population control. And when students arrived this semester, it became apparent that this pest would either unite or divide the campus.
If the birds won’t kill them, that means it’s up to students. So throw those expensive shoes out the window and get ready to stomp.
“Please Kill Me” flyers line bathroom stalls, complete with a photo of the creature. How the lanternflies found access to printers is currently under investigation, but for now, it is only out of respect for their wishes that students cut their sunbathing and wobbling to an end.
They interrupt lunch, sit in on classes and apparently use our printers.
Students worked hard to get here, and lanternflies are swarming resources, for free.
While faculty and students have already taken on their role as bug-killers, the fear tactics are not working. Lanternflies continue to loiter, even after seeing their friends die at the hands of environmental science professors. That’s insanity.
But maybe this isn’t so bad after all. Maybe the invasion of the lanternfly is meant to unite the student body, provide a collective goal and put collaboration skills to the test.
Since their initial arrival in the valley, lanternflies have grown and become more harmful to the local ecosystem. While the fly does not directly lead to tree death, its feasting induces stress in species, such as willows, maples and poplar, making them more vulnerable to their environment.
Researchers at Penn State warn that “potentially at stake are Pennsylvania’s grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, nursery and landscape industries, which generate agricultural crops and forest products worth nearly $18 billion annually. The insect also can cause damage to high-value ornamentals in home landscapes and can affect the quality of life for residents.”
And as counties in eastern Pennsylvania act as a designated quarantine area, the Lehigh community plays a critical role in the eradication of the species that scientists claim could devastate ecosystems if spread further.
It is time to use the power of the student body and lead in the removal of the invasive species.
No more apathy. Do not give them the benefit of the ‘Lehigh-look-away.’ Just look them right in the eyes and stomp.
And to the admissions committee, please filter out any lanternfly applications that may come in for the class of 2024. These fake students tend to write their essays about their love for nature and their vegan diets, but do not be fooled. They have an agenda.
It’s true. Bad times bring a community together. But it’s important to not let the lanternflies continue to benefit from the bad times. It’s time to take back the ecosystem and come together as a campus.
Who knows? Maybe it’s the lanternflies that have been taking all of the parking spots all along.
Now are you convinced?