The spotted lanternfly is a big threat to trees and vegetations in NJ, and the Department of Agriculture wants you to destroy them before they ruin the Garden State’s crops and trees.

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According to the Department of Agriculture, the spotted lanternfly (SLF) is a species native to China, Vietnam and India. It was first found in the US in Berks County, PA in 2014 when it came in on a shipment. Now this pest is known to be in eleven different states including NJ. Since they feed on sap from 70 different plant species, they have the potential to greatly affect our crops and trees, harming or even killing the plants. The spotted lanternfly has been spotted in all 21 NJ counties so now is the time to check your home, backyard, outdoor furniture and even your vehicles for their egg masses.

“This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops and hardwood trees,” said the Department of Agriculture. “SLF feeds on the plant sap of many different plants including grapevines, maples, black walnut, and other important plants in NJ. While it does not harm humans or animals, it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.”

If you see the spotted lanternfly, kill it by stomping on it or by smashing it with a fly swatter. These bugs don’t fly, they hop, so they are pretty easy to eradicate. As for the eggs, the first step to getting rid of them is to identify them. They tend to look like sooty spots on a tree, or putty-like material that may be deposited on any flat surface. Use a rock or a credit card to scrape off and smash the eggs — press hard so you make sure you kill them! Then put them in a bag and dispose of them so that you don’t risk them hatching. Double bagging is recommended, as is depositing them in a container with some rubbing alcohol, bleach or hand sanitizer, which will kill them.

NJ DEPT OF AGRICULTURE

“SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a significant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors,” says the Department of Agriculture. “The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants and the feeding damage significantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.”

If that’s not enough of a reason to stomp out these bugs, apparently they can also attract other bugs and promote mold growth (ew!).

“As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.”

As part of their Stomp It Out! campaign, the Department of Agriculture is asking NJ residents to do their part by killing these SLF’s on sight.

SLF’s love Trees of Heaven which are abundant in NJ. If you see their eggs on them, scrape them off. The Department of Agriculture has plenty of pics to help you ID all the life stages of the SLF.

Happy stomping!

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