Visits from spotted lanternflies have prompted a different kind of quarantine in some states.
Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty
The arrival of the spotted lanternfly in the US has prompted quarantine measures in some New Jersey and Pennsylvania counties.
The bug, which is native to China and South Korea, arrived in the U.S. in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014 and has been “advancing” ever since, the Department of Agriculture says.
The lanternflies feed on over 70 trees and residents are asked to check their cars for them so they don’t spread further.
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As coronavirus lockdown measures for humans in New Jersey and Pennsylvania start to ease, some counties are working to quarantine a different kind of resident: the spotted lanterfly.
The bugs are not threatening to humans or animals, but feed on 70 different trees and plants, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Adult flies grow to be about an inch in length and an inch-and-a-half in width, according to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University.
Native to China and South Korea, the invasive bug arrived in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on a package in 2014 and have been “advancing” ever since, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
“We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said in a statement. “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.”
Pennsylvania has 26 counties under quarantine and New Jersey has eight. While the lanternflies are plant-hoppers and can only fly short distances, they are “excellent hitchhikers,” the agency said.
Residents can come and go from their homes as their local coronavirus regulations permit, but the states are asking that anyone who travels in the quarantined counties check their cars for the bug before they move, or “look before you leave.”
Residents should also avoid parking in tree lines, keep windows rolled up, and destroy the bugs when they see them.
The US Department of Agriculture and agencies in both states are working to treat the affected areas.
The bugs prefer the Tree-of-Heaven, an invasive tree that scientists believe the lanternflies need in order to reproduce.
Since 2018, New Jersey has treated more than 200,000 Trees of Heaven on almost 19,000 acres, officials said.
The insect has the potential to destroy agricultural crops like grape, hopes, and hardwood, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Those who spot the bug can report sightings to Pennsylvania State University.
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