Although the conversation in the adjoining panel is purely fictional, it’s a chilling reminder of the devastation invasive insects can inflict upon our beautiful ecosystems. Last summer, as I stood beneath the canopy of my oak and maple trees I listened to the low hum of crunching leaves, helpless to the infestation of spongy moth that had landed in my community.

The Society of American Foresters (SAF) have recently released their position statement on invasive species. It emphasizes the need for a science-based, proactive, and adaptive approach to prevent, manage, and control invasive species in forests.

The statement highlights the significant and urgent threat posed by invasive species to America’s forests, causing billions of dollars in economic and environmental damages each year. It encourages all stakeholders, including government agencies, landowners, and certification bodies, to be vigilant in preventing the spread of invasive species and to prioritize operational prevention, eradication, and control measures. The statement acknowledges that many invasive species are introduced through global commerce and transport, with ornamental plants being a primary pathway for introducing invasive plants. It also mentions the potential impact of climate change on invasive species and their disruption of native ecosystems. The document emphasizes the need for a realistic, prioritized, and actionable strategy to address the risks posed by invasive species to America’s forests. It calls for collective action with prevention being the top priority followed by monitoring and responding to infestations. Chemical and biocontrol methods are mentioned as part of the control tactics. They also mention enacting forest restoration projects and increased research to effectively manage invasive species and promote resilient forest lands.

Spotted Lanternfly: Hey, my fellow invasive insect and old friend, Spongy Moth! Can you believe it’s already time for our favorite season? The forests will soon offer a bounty of foliage, and we have an entire summer ahead to feast, and counties to conquer!

Spongy Moth: Soon it’ll be banquet-time. I can already taste the crunch of the sweet leaves and nutrients. The trees won’t know what hit them! And the best part is, the more we eat, the more we can multiply.

Spotted Lanternfly: I know I say this every year. But, I can’t wait to hitchhike and explore some new territories.

Spongy Moth: Absolutely! We’ve conquered new territories before, and we’ll keep doing it. The legacy of the spongy moth and Spotted Lanternfly will be written in the trees and vineyards. With every leaf we consume, we’ll leave our mark on this ecosystem.

spongy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar)
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