At this point, calling it an infestation seems to be an understatement in some parts of the state. The spotted lanternfly has now truly taken hold throughout New Jersey, and it's starting to get harder and harder to keep them in check.

Similar to what Kylie Moore stated in her article regarding these pesky bugs, what I'm about to dive into also isn't scientific by any means. Similarly, mine is also an observation based on what I've been noticing about the spotted lanternflies here in New Jersey. What's different, however, is the particular behaviors we each noticed.

Before I dive into it, I urge you to first read Kylie's piece on what she's noticed regarding these unwanted bugs (You can check out her article by clicking here). Like Kylie, I'm also noticing some changes with the lanternfly that makes me think that perhaps they're becoming smarter than we'd like them to be.

Invasion of the Lanternflies
AP Photo

Recently, I was at a place that had one of these infestations of spotted lanternflies. It was on a fairly large patio with these bugs literally everywhere. I probably killed about 20 of them alone in this one area.

But, there was something peculiar I noticed while trying to squish them with my shoe. The spotted lanternflies seemed to pick up on how and when I was going to try and kill them. Almost as if they knew what my timing would be.

So I tried an experiment. I started walking up to these lanternflies, one at a time and stood there for a few seconds before going in to make the kill. And almost every time the spotted lanternfly hopped out of the way before my foot can get to it.


Now, here's where it gets interesting. For the first three attempts, I kept my timing the same. I walked close to it and waited for about five seconds before going in for the kill, and each time the spotted lanternfly seemed to know exactly when I'd be coming in and hopped away just in time.

But the fourth time, I changed it up. Instead of waiting about five seconds, I only waited about one second before going for it. And every time I did that, I got it. Almost as if it picked up on my pattern from the first few attempts but didn't see it coming the last time.

If this was a one-off I might dismiss it. But this happened every single time I did it this way, which leads me to think that perhaps these things are actually a bit smarter than we'd like them to be. Maybe they let their guard down after a repeated pattern of doing the same thing.

Again, this is strictly my own observation with my own experiment on trying to kill them. On the one hand, the last thing we need is for these things to have smarts. But on the other hand, it also means that if you're having a hard time catching them, try to establish a pattern first then go for it when it least expects it.

Spotted Lanternfly in Spadea's backyard
Spotted Lanternfly in Spadea's backyard

I'm not sure what other unique methods people are trying to use to kill them, but we can certainly use all our collective ideas when it comes to getting this infestation under control. For me, it seems like the spotted lanternfly recognizes patterns, which we could use to our advantage while trying to stop them.

Unfortunately, if these things are smarter than we'd like them to be, then it's going to make it that much harder to stay on top of. Essentially, it means they're equipped to adapt, and that'll only make it more difficult for us.

It's just a shame that the spotted lanternfly simply can't take a hint when it sees others of its kind squished all over on the sidewalks and patios and think to itself, "maybe being here isn't such a good idea."

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