The NJ Department of Agriculture released a warning yesterday about Spotted Lanternfly, a very invasive, very destructive insect that has been spotted in Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Somerset and now, Essex county.
Here is what we know:
This insect, the Spotted Lanternfly, is native to China and arrived on a shipment to PA in 2014. It has been advancing ever since, having few predators (chickens,, praying mantises) in the Mid-Atlantic. While it is a plant hopper and can only travel short distances, it is a very crafty hitchhiker.
What is the threat?
While it is not a danger to humans or animals, it is a threat to 70 different types of plants and trees, many which are in our farms and gardens. They leave behind honeydew droppings on the plants, attracting wasps and other stinging insects. The droppings also breed a black, sooty mold that can significantly damage plants. Lanternfly can kill a tree outright, or stress it to the point where it dies over time. Particularly at risk: some nut trees, maple, oak, pine, sycamore, dogwood and willow trees, hops, grapevines and fruit trees. It is particularly attracted to Tree of Heaven.
How can we control the spread of spotted lanternfly?
While winter will kill adult spotted lanternflies, the egg masses, holding between 30-50 eggs, can withstand our winter temperatures, hatching in the spring. Egg masses, juveniles, and adults can be on trees and plants and are also found on bricks, stone, metal, and other smooth surfaces. Also thoroughly check your vehicles, trailers, and even the clothes you’re wearing because you can accidently move spotted lanternfly. If you have a Tree of Heaven, remove it or have it treated.
What do I do if I see a Spotted Lanternfly?
Stomp it, swat it, smash it, kill it but also, REPORT IT. Adult lantern flies can fly but prefer to hop. They are about 1 inch long, with four wings, multi-colored. Note: When the wings are not fully spread out, you will only see the brown-gray wings with black spots.
Here is a really simple video made by Temple University on how to capture Spotted Lanternflies using just a used water/soda bottle. It’s so simple it is almost funny.
(Photo by Marc McAndrews)
You can also submit images to the NJ Dept of Agriculture. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the form.
What does the Spotted Lanternfly’s egg mass look like?
The egg masses look like a grayish putty. It lays eggs on almost any surface, including cars.
(Photo by Marc McAndrew)
What do I do if I see a spotted lantern fly egg mass?
If you spot an egg mass, you can submit images here. They are using the submissions to train an algorithm that scanning devices can use to search for the eggs.
When preparing for the winter holidays, check outdoor items for spotted lanternfly egg masses, including those items you may bring indoors. Scrape any egg masses into a plastic zippered bag filled with alcohol or hand sanitizer, then zip the bag shut and dispose of it properly.