BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Agriculture released information and instructions for residents who find the Spotted Lanternfly at any time on their properties, and Somerset County is one of the locations being quarantined because of the number of sighting reports.
Residents from all over Bridgewater have been reporting seeing the exotic invasive insect on their properties and in their trees.
According to the release, the department is working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service to curb the spread of the spotted lanternfly.
“We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said in the release. “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.”
According to the release, the insect is no threat to humans or animals, but it does feed on 70 different types of plants and trees. It is native to China, but arrived in the United States in Pennsylvania on a shipment in 2014.
The species, the release said, has been advancing ever since, and has caused Pennsylvania to have 26 counties currently under quarantine, in addition to New Jersey counties including Somerset, Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem.
The insect is a plant hopper, and can only fly short distances, but it is an excellent hitchhiker, and can travel on any kind of transportation.
The department is asking that anyone who travels in a quarantined county do a quick inspection of their vehicle for the insect before leaving.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and USDA-APHIS have crews throughout the state that are working to treat areas where infestations have been reported. The crews may seek permission to come on to a property where large infestations exist, the release said.
Treatments will only occur on the Tree of Heaven, the release said, because the spotted lanternfly prefers it and is believed to need it to reproduce.
Any resident who has had an infestation and would like to treat their own property can find information at https://bit.ly/3eIuTEi.
The insect is currently in its full adult stage, and will begin laying egg masses in early to mid-September. They gray looking masses can be scraped off, double bagged and thrown away, or can be placed into alcohol, bleach or hand sanitizer to kill them.