The spotted lanternfly is a big threat to trees and vegetation in NJ, and the end of April is prime time for the eggs to start hatching, so keep an eye out for these pests and continue to stomp them out.

iSTOCK.com/arlutz73

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 U.S. in Berks County, PA, in 2014 when it came in on a shipment. Now this pest is known to be in several 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.

There weren’t as many of these destructive insects reported in 2023 as in past years. The possible reasons for the reduction last year could be because January 2023 was cold, and the summer was hot and dry, or that the high populations have severely damaged or killed their host plants, causing them to move on, according to two Rutgers University entomologists, George Hamilton, an extension specialist in Pest Management with the Department of Entomology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences; and Anne Nielsen, an associate extension specialist in Entomology.

However, the Department of Agriculture continues to ask that you destroy them before they ruin the Garden State’s crops and trees.

“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.

What we have learned over the past couple of years is that the lanternfly likes more plants than we expected, especially hardwood trees. “We are seeing impacts to grape production and some nursery crops, but agricultural impacts are mostly limited to these commodities,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen continued, “To manage the pest long-term, we will need a multi-life stage approach that likely includes trapping for the nymphal stages on preferred host trees like the red maple, black walnut and tree of heaven. The United States Department of Agriculture-developed circle trap is easy to make and can remove thousands of young nymphs. Adult management likely requires insecticide treatment by trained professionals on hardwood trees and by commercial grape growers. Scraping of egg masses may help but will only remove about 10 percent to 20 percent of eggs on a tree.”

Long-term solutions will include biological control with species that target lanternflies after more research and screening is conducted.

Get the latest on the best things to do with your family in and around New Jersey by signing up for our newsletter and following us on Facebook and Instagram!

Read More:
Take Your Animal Lovers to Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
Get to Know Some of NJ’s Most Endangered Species
Where to See Bald Eagles in New Jersey
Saving New Jersey’s Endangered Bobcats
Osprey: From Surviving to Thriving
Birds of NJ: Figure Out What’s In Your Backyard