4-H Kid’s Bug Collection at State Fair Competition Launches Federal Investigation
Little did a young 4-H member know that when he entered his bug collection into his State Fair's entomology competition that people would freak out a federal investigation would be launched.
According to washingtonpost.com, what the Thomas County, Kansas kid didn't realize is that his collection included a rare and dangerous insect. Actually, he knew the insect was rare but didn't know the bug was a dangerous invasive species.
Rare is good, right? It seems he's the only kid who had one of these rare insects, so he won the competition, right?
He apparently won the second place blue ribbon, but his collection is the only one that prompted a state and federal investigation.
The insect that caused the Kansas Department of Agriculture to call in the feds is what's called a spotted lanternfly.
Why Is A Spotted Lanternfly Dangerous?
The spotted lanternfly is native to China, India, and Vietnam, and is believed to have traveled to the U.S. in a shipping crate at some point. It was first discovered in the U.S. in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania according to washingtonpost.com.
According to wikipedia.com, the spotted lanternfly has been identified in Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Now, Kansas can be added to the list.
The spotted lanternfly isn't dangerous to humans or pets thankfully, but they are very dangerous to plants. An infestation of spotted lanternflies has the potential to knock an ecosystem completely out of whack and destroy certain industries.
They're craft little suckers too, routinely attaching themselves to vehicles. Obviously, this is a real concern due to the fact someone could have multiple spotted lanternflies on their vehicle and unknowingly transport these insects to other states and areas of the U.S.
From washingtonpost.com -
The spotted lanternfly feeds on a variety of crops, including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees. The waste it excretes encourages a fungal growth called sooty mold, which can kill plants by blocking sunlight from reaching their leaves. Experts fear the continued spread of spotted lanternflies could severely hurt the country’s grape, orchard and logging industries.
The boy's entry of his bug collection into the Kansas State Fair's entomology competition immediately raised a red flag because he indeed had a spotted lanternfly correctly identified and labeled.
He told judges he found the insect on his patio.
Judges of the entomology 4-H competition are required to report any instances and sightings of invasive species to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That's exactly what they did which got officials with the USDA and the Kansas Department of Agriculture involved.
Wade Weber, Kansas 4-H leader tells washingtonpost.com -
It’s the excitement of a kid learning about their world, putting it on display, and sure enough, they discovered something that adults were like, ‘Wow, this is really important for us to be aware of'.
He has alerted us to a threat we weren’t aware of, and we’re really thankful.
I still think the kid should have won 1st place. I mean, he potentially saved the entire state of Kansas from apocalyptic famine.
Read more at washingtonpost.com.