States urging residents to be on lookout for invasive bug

The spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 70 plant species, which can make the plants vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects.
Latternfly
Courtesy: ABC News

Officials across multiple states are urging people to be on the lookout for an invasive species that can have a devastating impact on agriculture.

In recent weeks, officials in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey have been sounding the alarm about the spotted lanternfly, which currently is in its prime feeding season and can wreak havoc on crops.

For the first time, live spotted lanternflies were also found on Staten Island, New York, state authorities announced Friday.

The first live find is “concerning,” Basil Seggos, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner, said in a statement, adding that the goal is to “prevent it from further entering New York state and limiting any serious threats to our natural resources.”

The spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 70 plant species, which can make the plants vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. A Penn State study released earlier this year found that the invasive species cost the Pennsylvania economy about $50 million, including $29 million in direct costs on growers and forest landowners.

The spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 70 plant species, which can make the plants vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. A Penn State study released earlier this year found that the invasive species cost the Pennsylvania economy about $50 million, including $29 million in direct costs on growers and forest landowners.

People can help limit the spotted lanternfly’s spread by reported sightings to their state agriculture department or by simply squashing the bug.

People can also help prevent the spread of the spotted lanternfly by not inadvertently transporting the insect or its eggs. Native to Asia, the insect is notorious for hitchhiking and primarily spread through human activity.

Dozens of counties across multiple states are currently under a form of quarantine due to the insect, including 26 in Pennsylvaniaeight in New Jerseytwo in Maryland and one in Delaware. Typically that means anyone who travels in a quarantined county is asked to inspect their vehicle, luggage, gear, outdoor items and clothing for the spotted lanternfly or its eggs before leaving. It may also mean businesses are required to have a permit to move certain items within or from quarantine zones.

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