Just when we thought 2020 could not get harder here come the bugs!

Amidst the havoc that the ongoing pandemic is creating, New Jersey residents are facing another crisis. According to state officials, a spotted lanternfly was found in Staten Island, and eight counties are under quarantine suspecting possible infestation.

These insects hail mostly from China and South Korea. They can feed on over 70 different plant species, including fruit-bearing trees, herbs, vegetables, and vines, and they damage the trees by sucking the plant sap. Other insects like ants and wasps get attracted to the plant sap, making the process of destruction more rapid.

How do these insects spread?

The spotted lanternfly was first found in Berks County in Pennsylvania in 2014. It is believed that the insects might have attached themselves to a shipment coming from China to Pennsylvania. Hence, residents of the quarantined counties (Warren, Somerset, Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Camden, and Gloucester) are advised to inspect their vehicles thoroughly before traveling. Any mode of transportation from these counties will be checked, as "hitch-hiking" is the main mode by which they spread from place to place.

The state authorities are working diligently to curb the spread of the pests. Treatments have already started where the pest is spotted. Special care is being taken on the Tree of Heaven species, which is a known breeding ground for the lanternflies. Officials have advised residents to report and kill the insect whenever possible. 

Whenever a bug is spotted, residents of other counties outside the quarantined ones are requested to mail the exact address of the location to Slf-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov, or call 609-406-6943.

Click here for detailed information on the spotted lanternflies and quarantine rules.