Program Conducts Measurable Outreach against Spotted Lanternfly
By Megan Pistolese, SLF Spotters Program Coordinator, SLELO PRISM
The St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO PRISM) has developed a targeted and measurable strategy for spotted lanternfly (SLF) outreach in New York State. This program is designed to educate the public about their role in limiting the spread of SLF and, in turn, the damage it can cause.
The invasive SLF is expected to have a significant impact on agricultural and tourism industries. But one of the greatest challenges this pest presents is its capacity to spread, often through unwitting human assistance, and its range has gradually expanded into other northeastern states, even establishing a foothold in the Midwest
With SLF confirmed in multiple New York counties, SLELO PRISM has developed programming to encourage travelers to check their vehicles and any other equipment on which SLF adults and egg masses may hitchhike. It is vital to raise awareness and engage with businesses and other organizations who can help reach travelers and others who may unknowingly spread SLF.
Many outreach initiatives throughout the affected area have engaged the public about SLF, but how do we know if these strategies to raise awareness are effective and if target audiences are being reached?
SLELO PRISM’s Spotted Lanternfly Spotters Program provides a platform to enhance awareness by engaging businesses and tracking reach. The program webpage (www.sleloinvasives.org/spottedlanternflyspotters/) provides tools to engage with local businesses, links to obtain SLF outreach materials for distribution from state agencies, and a social media toolbox with premade SLF graphics.
To help evaluate the impact of SLF outreach, the program has developed trackable QR code sticker labels that can be printed and placed on outreach materials. The code links to an online survey. The answers to the survey can be used to measure the effectiveness and impact of SLF outreach efforts across the state.
The survey also provides a means to solicit a commitment from recipients of the materials to check their vehicles and other equipment for SLF adults and eggs, to destroy any SLF they find, and to report findings to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about this program on the SLELO PRISM website at www.sleloinvasives.org/spottedlanternflyspotters/. Or contact the SLF Spotters program coordinators—Megan Pistolese (email@example.com) and Brittney Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org) of SLELO PRISM—with any questions.
For more information on the spotted lanternfly, including a frequently updated county-by-county map of confirmed SLF locations, visit StopSLF.org. The website is managed by the Northeastern IPM Center, provides a wealth of information on SLF, and reflects the ongoing work of a USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative project dedicated to combating this invasive pest. The project developed from a working group initially funded by the Center in 2018.