Like a stylish secret agent, the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) – one of Kiwifruit’s Most Unwanted - has a striking appearance, but it is shrouded in mystery.
Its movements are stealthy and devastating, and like something out of a suspense novel, a skilled team in the USA is using satellite technology to stay one step ahead of it.
The USDA Tactical Sciences for Agricultural Biosecurity programme has been awarded nearly USD $1million for a project to use satellite remote sensing to learn more about this mysterious pest and develop a model to predict its movements.
The project lead says while tree of heaven is the dominant host for SLF, other economically valuable hosts are also preferred (including kiwifruit, walnut, grape, and a variety of fruit trees) and they hope to predict where it would go next so that protections could be put in place and damage could be reduced. The satellite data will be used to study the SLF, observe changes in infested trees, and map and predict the pests’ spread.
Read more about the project and how the satellite data will inform why the SLF chooses certain trees/hosts at different stages of its life.