This was in the New York Times three years ago:
“Squash It! Smash It! Pennsylvania implores residents to kill an invasive bug on sight.”
Similar headlines could be found two years ago. One year ago. And this summer, even on billboards.
Pennsylvania, among other states, is being overrun by the spotted lanternfly.
The government’s response: KILL THEM ALL!
News outlets everywhere responded with scenes of people stomping and swatting in Philadelphia and carcasses of spotted laternflies everywhere.
People seemed to be taking great pleasure in the slaughter of the pest, which came from Asia, of course, and has been wreaking havoc on plants everywhere.
They eat grapes and cherry trees and maples and black walnuts.
The fly has been seen in several northeast states, including New York. It is pervasive in Pennsylvania, which, by my calculations, is really close to New York.
We will once again spent millions and millions in an attempt to eradicate this pest.
It was 13 years ago that I wrote the following, which I’m reprinting today. Why? Ask anyone with ash trees. Let’s just hope the spotted lanternfly doesn’t decimate our grape crops:
Either by knockout or a decision after 12 rounds.
You can’t beat nature, yet we try and try and in the end we fail miserably and never learn our lesson.
In California, they poison lakes to stop northern pike.
We tried to stop the zebra mussel, the round goby, soybean rust and Dutch elm disease.
In New York we lace purple boxes to trees, oversized fly catchers that scientists hope will tell us when and where the emerald ash borer beetle will strike next.
I could have answered that before the first box was hung.
The borer will be everywhere in a few years and it will decimate New York’s ash trees.
Nothing can stop it. Not money. Not pesticides, predators and definitely not man.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand this week requested federal money to help combat the borer in New York. (For those who don’t know, Gillibrand replaced Hillary Clinton).
She hopes New York will get access to a nearly $40 million fund earmarked for the nation’s war against the emerald ash borer.
The fund is a farce, a handful of change thrown at a problem everyone knows cannot be solved. A pittance so we can say “at least we tried.”
And we are trying, trying like a child digging a hole in the sand.
As soon as the borer was detected in Cattaraugus County, the Department of Environmental Conservation quarantined the county, along with Chautauqua County.
Certain wood products cannot be moved in or out of the counties.
New York has banned bringing firewood into parks or hauling it within a certain radius.
It’s a lame attempt to slow the inevitable.
At least we’re not poisoning lakes.
California poisoned Lake Davis in 1997 in an attempt to kill the northern pike that were feeding on trout.
The poison killed everything in the lake, which was the goal. The goal also was to re-stock the lake with trout.
Two years later the northern pike was back and in 2007 the lake was poisoned again.
No pike have been found. Yet.
Give it a few months.
Now California wants to poison a remote Sierra stream to preserve a rare species of trout.
Why? Because the rare species had “hybridized” with other species of trout.
So kill them all and let God sort them out.
We cannot win against nature. We can’t stop the snow from falling or a tornado from blasting through and we certainly can’t stop it from raining on our parades.
We’re infested with mosquitoes, despite best efforts to stop them from spreading West Nile virus.
Our lake and stream bottoms are black-and-white with zebra mussels, despite the millions, maybe billions, spent on preventing just that from happening.
I can no longer net minnows or chubs from small streams for bait. Legally. Dealers now have to have special licenses and proof that their baitfish are “certified.” Why? Because transporting minnows and chubs is illegal now, an effort to stop the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia. Whatever that is.
Every summer my mission is to eliminate yellowjackets from every inch of my property. I buy a case or so of spray and by August you’d be hard-pressed to find a nest anywhere near my house.
The next year they return and the cycle begins again.
I can’t beat nature and we can put up a zillion purple boxes and quarantine every county in the state and still, in five years, our ash trees will begin going the way of the Dutch elm.
So get out your chainsaws. Start hacking away. Stoke the fire pits this winter with ash. Build a few baseball bats. Take a photograph.
The emerald ash borer will win. So will the spotted lanternfly.
Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com.