The proud participation of 'a young competitor at Kansas state fair caused a beat when a judge saw the submitted specimen in the boy's display box - and it sparked a federal investigation .
The exhibit item was a dead speckled lantern the boy had discovered in his home - an invasive insect resembling to a moth that caused massive damage to plants in the eastern states of the United States, but had not before thought to have reached Kansas.
The boy won a prize at the fair and correctly identified the insect, but the creature itself has been flagged for attention by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture. The agency will now investigate how the invasive species got to Kansas, the Hutchinson News reported .
Since arriving in Pennsylvania, probably via sea container from Asia , spotted lanterns have ravaged the northeastern United States in recent years.
Parasites feed on trees and fruits and excrete waste called "honeydew" that promotes fungal growth - behavior that threatens to cause devastating damage to plants, vines and agricultural products as it inhibits photosynthesis.
The sudden appearance of the insect so far to the west immediately causedsounded the alarm bells - and its novelty helped Kansas contender to win a blue ribbon . He correctly identified his specimen as a spotted lantern fly, although he was unaware that it was invasive or rare in the state.
The boy, who lives in northwestern Thomas County of Kansas, discovered the lantern fly on his patio in May.
But it was "worn and desiccated ", which could mean that she died last year, Erin Otto from the inspection service told the Washington Post .
Lanterns don't fly not very far but can be transported long distances by unsuspecting vehicles.
"They are very good hitchhikers ", George Hamilton, head of the entomology department at Rutgers University, USA Today said . "Most people don't even know they have them until the adult form comes out.
In addition to reporting any observation, the authorities didn 't mince their words on this Americans should do it in the midst of a spotted lantern invasion.
"Kill- the! "the Pennsylvania Agriculture Department said on its website . "Crush it, crush it ... just get rid of it.