Leonardo DiCaprio Embraces "Squishing" Spotted Lanternflies, According to Expert

Environmental Impact of Spotted Lanternflies on Spotlight

by Zain ul Abedin
Leonardo DiCaprio Embraces "Squishing" Spotted Lanternflies, According to Expert
© Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images Entertainment

Leonardo DiCaprio, renowned for his advocacy of environmental causes, recently made headlines for an unexpected reason. While strolling through Chelsea in New York City with his family, including his mother and her partner, the celebrated actor was spotted engaging in a peculiar form of pest control: squishing spotted lanternflies underfoot.

This seemingly ruthless act has stirred curiosity about whether DiCaprio's actions align with his environmentalist persona. Spotted lanternflies, originally hailing from Asia, were first identified in the United States in Pennsylvania back in 2014.

Dr. Kacie Athey, a respected Specialty Crops Entomologist and Extension Specialist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, suggests that these insects may have arrived in the country through unconventional means, possibly hitching a ride on international trade cargo or with globe-trotting individuals.

The question arises: is Leonardo DiCaprio, the heartthrob of the '90s, contradicting his environmentalist principles by squashing these insects as he might break hearts? Dr. Athey, shedding light on the matter, offered her professional insight.

"We recommend squashing them," she stated firmly, a departure from the usual methods employed in pest control. "This is a legitimate approach. It's quite intriguing, as it marks the first time, during my tenure in entomology, that a concerted effort has been made to encourage squashing."

Spotted Lanternflies: Minimal Human Threat

Furthermore, Dr.

Athey emphasized that spotted lanternflies pose no physical threat to humans, assuaging concerns of any potential danger. She categorizes them as a "nuisance pest" primarily due to their unsightly impact on plants. Although they feed on over a hundred different plant species, their damage to commercial crops has proven less significant than initially feared.

Despite their decade-long presence in the United States, spotted lanternflies have recently resurfaced in the news, primarily due to their expanding geographic range, now appearing in numerous states across the country. These insects predominantly inhabit the East Coast, including Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Delaware.

Dr. Athey advises individuals in areas where these pests are active to snap a quick picture before dispatching them. Cornell University spearheads tracking research on spotted lanternflies and welcomes photographic submissions for further study.

However, for those in New York, like Leonardo DiCaprio, the message is clear: "feel free to squish as many as you want." While the actor's actions may have raised eyebrows, they serve as a reminder that even environmental heroes sometimes resort to unconventional means to protect their surroundings. In the ongoing battle against spotted lanternflies, squishing emerges as an unexpected yet effective strategy.

Leonardo Dicaprio