NEW JERSEY — Please kill this bug.

That’s the message from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, which on Wednesday sent out instructions for how members of the public can help slow the spread of the spotted lanternfly, an exotic invasive insect.

While the spotted lanternfly is no threat to humans or animals, it is known to feed on 70 different types of plants and trees, the NJDA said in a press release. It is native to China and South Korea, and arrived in the US in Pennsylvania on a shipment in 2014. It made its way to New Jersey in the summer of 2018, a spokesman for the NJDA said.

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The bug is a plant hopper and can only fly short distances. However, it is an excellent hitchhiker and has been known to ride on any kind of transportation, the NJDA said.

“Its ability to travel easily on any mode of transportation has allowed it to spread,” NJDA Plant Industry Division Director Joe Zoltowski said.

The department asked that anyone who travels in a quarantined county do a quick inspection of their vehicle for spotted lanternflies before leaving. Quarantined counties in New Jersey are Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Somerset.

So what should you do if see you a spotted lanternfly? Destroy it, Secretary Douglas Fisher said.

“We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug,” 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.”

This video shared by the NJDA shows one way you can help when the spotted lanternfly begins laying egg masses in early to mid-September:

If you have an infestation and would like to treat your property yourself, the NJDA shared a list of ways to kill it at https://bit.ly/3eIuTEi. It did not recommend using sticky traps, as they may harm other wildlife.

The NJDA and USDA-APHIS have several crews throughout the Garden State treating areas where infestations have been reported, the department said. They may ask permission to come on to a property where there are large infestations, and they will have proper identification and follow proper safety protocols, the NJDA said.

It’s believed that the bug needs trees of heaven (itself an invasive species) to reproduce. Those are the trees that are treated, the press release said.

Residents outside of quarantined counties can report the exact address of sightings of the spotted lanternfly by emailing Slf-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov or by calling 609-406-6943.

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