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Yale University honors 9-year-old girl who neighbor called police on for spraying spotted lanternflies

Yale honors girl who had cops called on her for spraying lanternflies
Yale honors girl who had cops called on her for spraying lanternflies 01:47

NEW HAVEN, Conn -- Yale University honored a scientist who is just 9 years old on Friday.

Bobbi Wilson is fascinated by bugs, but last year her mission to catch spotted lanternflies captured national attention

Last fall, Bobbi learned about the invasive species in school and wanted to help. She found a bug spray recipe on TikTok. 

"I mixed water, dish soap and apple cider vinegar," she said. 

Bobbi was using it outside her home in New Jersey when a neighbor called police. 

"There's a little Black woman walking and spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees. I don't know what the hell she's doing. Scares me though," the neighbor told a 911 operator. 

Monique Joseph, Bobbi's mother, said the neighbor was racially profiling her daughter

"Those exact words in another town, another state, I could be grieving," said Joseph. 

Ijeoma Opara, a Yale School of Public Health assistant professor, heard Bobbi's story and decided to take the young entomologist under her wing. 

"Oh yeah, Bobbi belongs here. Bobbi is Yale," said Opara, who invited Bobbi to campus to meet scientists who look like her. 

Friday, Bobbi was back to see the first spotted lanternfly specimens added to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History collection.

The insects were gathered by Bobbi herself. Yale said she's one of the youngest people ever to submit specimens to their collection. 

"How does it make you feel to know that these bugs are going to be in this museum?" Bobbi was asked. 

"Happy and proud," she said. 

Now, Bobbi has the bug for a career in science. 

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