The Spotted Lanternfly in New Jersey: Why it's dangerous and what to do if you see them
Updated: May 3, 2021
The warming weather of spring in New Jersey brings the awakening of pests that either nestle themselves away for the winter or come in on air currents from warmer places. As the weather becomes more comfortable for them, you’ll start to see a whole variety of flying, crawling, jumping and generally mobile pests, one of which can be especially dangerous, the Spotted Lanternfly. In recent years, this pest has expanded its presence in several counties across New Jersey including Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, and Somerset.
About the Spotted Lanternfly
An insect native to Asia, the Spotted Lanternfly attacks trees, vines, crops and many other plants, causing oozing sap, curling leaves and general dieback. In addition, these lanternflies produce a sugary substance called honeydew when they feed, secreting it onto the tree or plant. This substance encourages the growth of a sooty black mold that, while innocuous to humans, does damage the tree or plant.
Spotted Lanternflies can gather by the hundreds, swarming in the air, covering trees and secreting honeydew over homes, cars and anything outdoors. In addition to being a nuisance, the Spotted Lanternfly is a threat to agricultural crops in orchards, vineyards and wooded forestry lots.
How to tell if the trees on your property have been affected by the Spotted Lanternfly
Even if you don't see a swarm of lanternflies on your trees or other vegetation, they may have already been attacked. Here are some signs of a Spotted Lanternfly infestation:
Oozing sap on the tree and objects under and around it
Sooty black mold growing on the tree which could be lanternfly eggs (Important: You may be able to prevent a Spotted Lanternfly infestation before it becomes a dire situation if you find a nest. If you don't want to dispose of the spotted lanternfly nest yourself, contact a professional certified arborist or lawn care expert to help.)
Infestations of other pests attracted by the sugary honeydew
What to do if you see a Spotted Lanternfly
The Spotted Lanternfly is actually a pretty insect. It’s about 1 inch long by ½ inch wide. The front wings are gray with black spots with black and gray tips. The rear wings have a black-and-white portion and also a black-spotted red section. Its abdomen is yellow with black bands. They do not pose a threat to humans or pets, and do not bite. If you spot a Spotted Lanternfly, call the New Jersey Spotted Lanternfly Hotline at 1-833-223-2840 (BADBUG0) and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information.