Residents in eight New Jersey counties are ‘under quarantine’ due to an invasive insect known as the spotted lanternfly, which originates in China, India, and Vietnam.
So how did it get to the U.S.?
The plant hopper is only able to fly short distances but travels far and wide by hitching a ride on any form of transportation. The invasive bugs were recently spotted in eight counties in New Jersey, putting them in quarantine. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture released a statement saying, “The New Jersey counties under quarantine are Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Somerset.”
Since the bugs are “excellent hitchhikers”, residents in the quarantined counties are simply asked to do a quick inspection of their vehicles before leaving the area to make sure they aren’t exposing other counties to the spotted lanternfly. The same rule applies to anyone who travels into the quarantined areas.
While the insect is not a danger to humans or animals, it threatens over 70 varieties of plants and trees, including fruit trees and vegetable crops.
“We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug,” Secretary 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.”
The opportunist pest has spread across 26 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey officials hope to stop the spread by treating their preferred nesting and breeding spots, tree of heaven. But they need the help of the residents.
“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.”
Officials are asking people to take pictures of the pest with their smartphones with their GPS function turned on and send them to SLFemail@example.com or call New Jersey Spotted Lanternfly Hotline at 1-833-223- 2840 (BADBUG0) and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information.
2020 has been a year we’ll never forget. With murder hornets swarming the U.S. just months after the global pandemic hit, protests/riots across the country, and other invasions by non-native species – it makes you wonder what’s next?!