We don’t know what’s on the spotted lanternfly’s summer reading list but suspect that it includes Kerouac’s “On the Road” or other paeans to adventures on highways and byways. The mesmerizing bug is, after all, nothing if not an accomplished hitchhiker. As New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher said Monday, “The spotted lanternfly’s excellent hitchhiking skills on all types of transportation have allowed it to spread…”
Proof of the lanternfly’s wandering ways is in its advance through the Garden State. As a result, the agriculture department on Monday added five counties to the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone — Morris, Monmouth, Middlesex, Essex, and Union counties. They join eight counties previously on the list — Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Somerset, and Warren. If you live in a quarantine county, you are asked to check for the egg masses, adults and nymphs of the lanternfly and to make sure that all items are pest-free before moving them. There’s an advisory checklist here, with advice on how to identify all life stages of the insect and minimize its movement. The department asks for people to check their vehicles before leaving an area as the spotted lanternfly has the ability to hitchhike on any vehicle for several miles.
The spotted lanternfly, which currently is in its adult stage, will begin laying its egg masses in September. While the adult cannot survive the winter, the egg masses can — and can produce up to 50 nymphs that hatch in the spring. It’s no threat to humans or pets, but the spotted lanternfly feeds on about 70 kinds of vegetation and can be a scourge to farmers and gardeners alike.
The agriculture department is asking anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly to destroy it whenever possible, then go to www.badbug.nj.gov, click on the spotted lanternfly photo and fill out the “report a sighting” form. Residents can also send the address of sightings to SLFfirstname.lastname@example.org