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NJ Department of Agriculture announces instructions for residents about spotted lanternfly

NEW JERSEY – New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher announced Wednesday information and instructions for residents who encounter the spotted lanternfly as the Department continues to receive numerous calls about this exotic invasive insect. The department is partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to curb the on-going spread of the spotted lanternfly.

“We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug,” Fisher said. “We are targeting areas where severe infestations have been confirmed, and we also encourage residents to destroy the Spotted Lanternfly if possible when they see it. It will take a combined effort to help keep this pest from spreading.”

While the spotted lanternfly is no threat to humans or animals, it is known to feed on 70 different types of plants and trees. It is native to China and South Korea, but arrived in the U.S. in Berks County, Pa., on a shipment in 2014.

(Photo: Courtesy NJ Department of Agriculture)

The species has been advancing ever since, causing Pennsylvania to have 26 counties currently under quarantine. The New Jersey counties under quarantine are Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Somerset. The spotted lanternfly is a plant hopper and can only fly short distances. However, it is an excellent hitchhiker and has been known to ride on any kind of transportation. The department asks that anyone who travels in a quarantined county do a quick inspection of their vehicle for the spotted lanternfly before leaving.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and USDA-APHIS have several crews throughout the state that are working to treat areas where infestations have been reported. Those crews may seek permission to come on to a property where large infestations exist. They will have proper identification and follow proper safety protocols. The crews will need to check only the specific areas outdoors where the spotted lanternfly has been found. Treatments will only occur on the Tree of Heaven, which the spotted lanternfly prefers and is believed to need to reproduce.

Since surveys and treatments for the spotted lanternfly in New Jersey began in 2018, there have been more than 200,000 Trees of Heaven treated on almost 19,000 acres.

“NJDA and USDA crews have worked to control the spread of this invasive pest,” NJDA Plant Industry Division Director Joe Zoltowski said. “Its ability to travel easily on any mode of transportation has allowed it to spread. We are asking residents to do their part by eliminating this bug whenever possible.”

“If a resident has an infestation and would like to treat their own property, a list of options can be found here. Using items such as sticky traps are not recommended as they may harm other wildlife,” Zoltowski said.”

While the spotted lanternfly is currently in its full adult stage, it will begin laying egg masses in early to mid-September. The gray looking egg masses can be scraped off, double bagged and then thrown away. The egg masses can also be placed into alcohol, bleach or hand sanitizer to kill them.

Any residents outside of the quarantine counties can report the exact address of sightings of the spotted lanternfly by emailing Slf-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov or call 609-406-6943.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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