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Kansas State Fair entry sparks investigation into spotted lantern fly

HUTCHINSON, Kansas – As the invasive spotted lantern wreaked havoc on the East Coast, Kansas officials were shocked to find one pinned to a student exhibit at the state fair.

The spotted lantern fly is an invasive insect that prevents plants from photosynthesizing, causing them to die, prompting health officials to suggest killing it on the spot. Kansas State Fair officials who judged 4-H entomology entries last week found that one exhibit included an invasive moth.

This sparked a federal investigation.

“We had an entomology problem,” said Gregg Hadley, board member of Fair, extension director at K-State Research and Extension Friday morning. “It was dead, but it was in a critter box.”

The Thomas County student who included the insect in a 4-H insect display box correctly identified it as a spotted lantern fly.

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