Grants to help property owners fend off spotted lanternflies


An invasive species of insect that's been attacking trees and crops in Berks County for the last five years may have finally met its match in Hamburg.

"They're pervasive everywhere," said Hamburg Mayor George Holmes. "People are seeing these spotted lanternflies."

Holmes issued a proclamation Thursday, declaring September 22 as "Squish a Spotted Lanternfly Day."

"Encouraging all our residents to, if they see a spotted lanternfly, stomp them," Holmes explained.

The mayor's proclamation also gives suggestions on how to adequately squish the bugs. Those include using a "fly swatter, broom, shoe or the equivalent."

The lanternfly was first discovered in the U.S. in Berks County in September 2014. It has since spread to surrounding counties and states.

Holmes is also urging citizens with a Tree of Heaven on their property to get rid of it. The trees attract the bugs.

The mayor said a hotspot for the insects is in Hamburg's park, but many people said they're mostly finding spotted lanternflies around their homes.

"They're horrible," said Jamie Heckman, a borough resident. "We smash them all the time."

Heckman said she and her son, Ryan, already squish dozens of spotted lanternflies every day, although Ryan might be overestimating his count.

"I usually catch a million!" Ryan exclaimed. "I don't know why I crush them so much. Mommy tells me to crush them. I think she's just scared of them."

The pair said they're excited for "Squish a Spotted Lanternfly Day," and they'll do their part.

"We'll keep count and make it a contest!" Heckman said.