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10-year-old Shaler student catches invasive spotted lanternfly

SHALER, Pa. — A 10-year-old Shaler student stumbled upon what she thought was a cool-looking moth, so she squashed it.

But it turned out to be a spotted lanternfly -- an invasive insect with the potential to cause up to $324 million in damage to crops each year.

According to Channel 11 News' exchange partners at TribLIVE, that fifth grader, Ludi Aguera, stepped on the bug and was simply struck by its unique color and pattern. Her mom was able to identify it, preserve it in a plastic bag and report it to the state Department of Agriculture’s hotline.

TribLIVE reported the invasive insect from Southeast Asia first hit Pennsylvania in 2014. It oozes sticky droppings onto trees and cars and looks like a mix of a ladybug and a moth, with a bright red core and dotted beige wings.

As of August, reports of the spotted lanternfly were up 147% statewide.

Residents who find a spotted lanternfly should identify, document, kill and save the insect, state officials said.