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The Spotted Lanternfly

Susan Sontag writes in her essay The Imagination of Disaster “Again and again, one detects the hunger for a “good war” which poses no moral problems, admits of no moral qualifications” 15


A couple of summers ago the spotted lanternfly landed in New York and began to populate. The spotted lanternfly is invasive to the US. Invasive species often cross ecological thresholds by breaching natural barriers and establishing themselves in new territories, since they are beyond their native range they have the opportunity to thrive without threat from their usual predators. They are brought over on the soles of boots of invading soldiers, forced to flee by the hand of cranes or rising water temperatures, and intentionally introduced by human effort. Invasive species can be viewed as visitors or intruders,  interactions between native species and invasive species have both positive and negative consequences, reshaping the ecological dynamics of the system in which they are introduced. Efforts to control or eradicate invasive species often involve defining and reinforcing boundaries to prevent their spread. However, these boundaries are inherently porous and establish new relationships between organisms. In the case of the Spotted lanternfly the relationship that grew was one of militant cause.  New Yorkers were urged by reliable media outlets to kill-on-sight, due to the threat the spotted lanternflies posed to tree health.  New Yorkers adopted this kill-on-site policy as a civil duty, and now each summer the disaster residue of splattered spotted lanternflies decorate the concrete blocks.


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