Spotted lanternfly nymphs look like small beetles, but they will soon grow into destructive pests.
Union County, NJ – July 26, 2022 — Union County residents can help fight back against the spotted lanternfly by destroying the destructive pest while it is still in the early stages of growth. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species that can weaken trees, damage ornamental plants and destroy fruit trees, hops, grape vines and other crops. They also excrete a whitish “honeydew” that can grow moldy and foul outdoor spaces including patios and yard furniture.
Each fall the adult spotted lanternfly lays eggs on outdoor surfaces including tree trunks, lawn furniture and vehicles. In early summer, the eggs hatch into nymphs that look like small black or bright red beetles speckled with white spots.
Residents who spot the nymphs can use a variety of approved pesticides to kill them. Crushing or swatting them is another option, though they are quick to hop away.
“Union County residents and property managers can take action against this destructive pest now, by inspecting yards, gardens and landscaping for the nymphs, and destroying them before they mature,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.
The nymphs can be seen on many different kinds of plants and trees. They are especially likely to be found clustering on the stems of the common ailanthus tree, or “tree of heaven.”
The nymphs mature into large, moth-like adults that can be easily identified by their papery white wings and brightly colored red, black and white underwings and body.
Adults are already beginning to emerge. Union County residents who see a spotted lanternfly should kill it immediately, by stomping it under foot. If it hops away, follow it and try again when it settles.
The spotted lanternfly belongs to a group of insects called “planthoppers.” They do not bite or sting, and they do not seem toxic to humans or pets. Native to parts of Southeast Asia, they were first seen in Pennsylvania in six years ago. They are believed to have arrived in shipments of stone. They were first found in New Jersey in 2018 has also been found in other nearby states.
For more information, including photos of the spotted lanternfly and its eggs at various stages, visit the New Jersey Division of Agriculture at nj.gov/agriculture.
Additional information is available from Rutgers University at njaes.rutgers.edu/spotted-lanternfly.
Sightings of the insect can also be reported to Rutgers University through the online reporting tool.
Union County is one of three counties in New Jersey participating in a U.S. Department of Agriculture research project to assess various methods of mitigating the spotted lanternfly invasion. For more information from the USDA visit aphis.usda.gov/hungrypests/slf.
For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.
For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.
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