By: Follow South Jersey Staff
CHERRY HILL, N.J. — While they may appear exotic and beautiful, the invasive Spotted Lanternfly can be devastating to Gloucester County’s rich agricultural industry, and residents are being asked to destroy them when found.
The insects are an extremely invasive, crop-eating insect which recently arrived in New Jersey. Lanternfly eggs which were laid in the fall will begin to hatch in May, and because they are known to destroy fruit trees, grapevines, and other agricultural crops, officials are once again calling for the public’s help identifying and destroying the eggs in order to limit the population.
“By now, most of us have seen this pest in our community, and while their presence is often a nuisance to outdoor gatherings, the true cost of this species’ growth is their capacity to devastate crops, trees, and plants,” County Commissioner Jeff Nash, liaison to the Camden County Parks Department, said. “With eggs expected to begin hatching soon, we do not have much time left to minimize the threat posed by this invasive species. Please be sure to check your surroundings for egg masses and, when spotted, follow the necessary steps to safely destroy and dispose of them. By destroying the egg masses, you are helping to control the population and protect South Jersey’s agricultural economy.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Spotted Lanternflies typically lay their eggs on smooth surfaces, appearing similar to a patch of mud. Residents are advised to check outdoor items for egg masses, including those which may have been brought indoors for the winter.
The Spotted Lanternfly was first spotted in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The insects are invasive and can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses.
Egg masses are typically about 1-1.5 inches long and covered with a gray or yellowish-brown, waxy coating. Each egg mass may contain 30 to 50 eggs that will hatch from late April to early May.
To properly destroy the egg masses, the USDA recommends scrapping the mass into a plastic zippered bag filled with hand sanitizer, then zipping the bag shut and disposing of it properly.
Spotted lanternflies are not known to bite, sting, or attack people, pets or livestock, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. It is not known whether they are poisonous when ingested by humans or animals. The pest is primarily a threat to agriculture including many fruit and crops.
More information about SLF is available from the United States Department of Agriculture by visiting here.
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