The state Department of Agriculture is working to stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, an insect that can decimate fruit and vegetable crops by interfering with photosynthesis. “A lot of people say they are a pretty bug and how can a pretty bug be so bad? But they are bad,” said Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry director Joe Zoltowski.
Three New Jersey counties have been quarantined because of the insect: Mercer, Warren and Hunterdon. And state agriculture officials, trying to stop it from spreading, are asking residents to check their cars for this unwanted passenger. “These bugs are really good hitchhikers. They can easily land on your vehicle if you’re parked underneath a tree and you can accidentally transport that to the new county,” said Anne Nielsen, assistant extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University.
The Spotted Lanternfly is about an inch-and-a-half long when fully grown. A native of Asia, it was first discovered in the United States in 2014 when a man in Pennsylvania found it on stones imported from Korea. Thirteen counties in Pennsylvania are widely infested.
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