Lehigh Valley

Hunting spotted lanternflies in the name of art

Artist using invasive insects to make mural

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Countless brightly colored wings, often scattered and smashed on the streets, will soon grace the halls of Penn State Lehigh Valley. "Thousands, millions, as many as we can possibly lay our hands on." Virginia based artist, Elsabe Dixon said. 

Penn State Lehigh Valley has partnered up with Dixon to create "environmentally proactive art" about the spotted lanternfly through Penn State's Campus Arts Initiative. 

They're creating a mural, made up entirely of spotted lanternfly wings.  Several groups are working on different rings of the project, which will, in the end, all but be put together at Penn State Lehigh Valley. 

One group met at the Cave Brewery at the South Mall Saturday afternoon to get a head start on the first leg of the project. "You place an art project in between bring the people to the information through the art," Dixon said. 

Organizers said they're hoping the art mural will be a fun community driven project. Another aspect of the project involves teaching people how to "de-wing" the bugs, and ultimately, how to get rid of the invasive species. "It's out of this world, a marvelous thing to do," Allentown resident TIm Hawkey said.  

Hawkey and his wife brought their own spotted lanternflies to the event. He shocked them, using an electrically charged tennis racquet. 

Organizers recommend after harvesting to freeze the bugs for two days, before pulling out those wings. 

"The wings are actually very very light, actually like a tissue paper," Allentown resident Eileen Grodziak explained. 

While pinning up thousands of wings won't eliminate the problem entirely, many said, it's a beautiful, colorful, step in the right direction. "This allows us to see the beauty in them amidst the destruction," Grodziak said. 

The project is being overseen by Penn State Lehigh Valley art and science faculty and staff throughout the fall semester. 

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