Dr. Chris Tipping, an associate professor of biology at Delaware Valley University, is testing methods to control the spotted lanternfly at a local vineyard this summer.
At Vivat Alfa, a Bucks County vineyard near campus, he is conducting studies with sticky traps to examine ways to manage the invasive insect. Austin Wilson, an environmental studies major, is completing an internship with Tipping as part of the project.
They are partnering with Catchmaster, a pest control company, to test and evaluate spotted lanternfly traps. As part of the project, Catchmaster is sponsoring Wilson’s internship.
“We like to involve the academic community in any way we can,” said Ed Dolshun, vice president of business development and technical director for Catchmaster. “This project is an opportunity to work with a great institution. Chris Tipping is well known in the field. We also try to bring young people in so that they can see some of the potential career opportunities that are out there.”
Wilson is using the internship to complete the university’s Experience360 Program requirements. Experience360, DelVal’s required experiential learning program, prepares students for their careers by integrating classroom knowledge with practical applications. For his first Experience360 activity, Wilson took a course in Hawaii that sparked his interest in invasive insects.
“I really became interested in invasive insects during my Global Field Studies course in Hawaii,” he said. “I had the opportunity to see a forest in Hawaii and how it was impacted by invasive insects and became interested in the topic of fighting them here at home.”
“For this research project, some of my main learning objectives are to learn how to combat pests, identify pests, and monitor them on a better scale,” Wilson said. “So that way, when I go into a job site, I can see the pests right away, learn about them, and try to combat them.”
Tipping and Wilson are testing several colors of sticky traps that are currently made by Catchmaster. They are also testing an attractant used in conjunction with the traps. Some of the goals of this research study are to determine the utility of the traps as a monitoring tool, improve their effectiveness, and reduce effects on non-target organisms.
Tipping is hoping that the research will help improve traps to manage the spotted lanternfly. He was eager to partner with Catchmaster on testing and continuing to improve the traps because he sees how businesses in Pennsylvania are negatively impacted by invasive insects.
“One of the major issues associated with this invasive insect is how it affects businesses that are within the quarantine areas,” Tipping said. “Businesses that are moving products in and out of the designated quarantined counties in Pennsylvania need to obtain a permit through the state. Time is money when you’re running a business and to carefully look over a vehicle to check for these insects takes time. Some of the other impacts potentially include issues dealing with the shipping of commodities that we produce here in Pennsylvania. We grow a lot of apples and grapes, and there could be some concerns about us shipping our products to other states and other counties that are currently lanternfly-free.”