There is another quarantine happening in America but it is not for the reason you think. Thirty-four counties in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are now under a new quarantine due to the presence of a bug known as the spotted lanternfly. Now you may start panicking.
The insect, originating from China and South Korea, made its way to Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 on a shipment.
“The species has been advancing ever since,” the New Jersey Department of Agriculture said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that the insects do not pose a threat to humans. However, they do cause harm to more than 70 different plant species, including fruits, nuts, and several types of trees.
The counties where the spotted lanternfly has been established are now under quarantine, in hopes of slowing the spread of the insect to protect agriculture.
The spotted lanternfly can only fly short distances but is known as an excellent hitchhiker, often clinging onto vehicles to get from one location to the next.
“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. It will take a combined effort to help keep this pest from spreading.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture echoed this in their own warning.
“If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, it’s imperative to immediately report it online or via phone… Especially if you are not inside the quarantine zone,” they said. “What else? Kill it! Squash it, smash it…just get rid of it. In the fall, these bugs will lay egg masses with 30-50 eggs each. These are called bad bugs for a reason, don’t let them take over your county next.”
If you must travel, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is urging you to inspect your vehicle beforehand, to make sure you aren’t taking any spotted lanternfly passengers with you.
Additionally, keep an eye out for signs of the spotted lanternfly in your area. Things to look for include:
- Oozing sap
- Leaf curling
- Tree dieback
- Buildup of sticky fluid on plants (honeydew)
- Black sooty mold
- Fermented odor
If you notice any Spotted Lanternflies in your area and you aren’t in a quarantine zone, report it immediately. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture gave the following description to help identify the insects:
“The Spotted Lanternfly adult is approximately 1″ long and 1/2″ wide at rest. The forewing is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. Immature stages are black with white spots, and develop red patches as they grow.”