Invasive Insect Poses Threat To NJ Agricutlure Industry

Aug 3, 2018

Spotted Lanternfly
Credit NJ Department of Agriculture

Pennsylvania has been battling an invasive insect for the past four years. The Spotted Lanternfly has spread to New Jersey and a quarantine is now in effect in Warren, Hunterdon, and Mercer counties.

Joe Zoltowski with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture says the Spotted Lanternfly is a threat to the state’s agriculture industry because it sucks the sap out of plants and secrets a sugary substance that causes a harmful mold to grow. 

“It could kill off your soybeans. It could degrade the quality of your corn. It could reduce the sugar content for the vineyards, the grape industry, degrade the quality and reduce the sugars in your peaches or your strawberries.”

Zoltowski says people in the quarantine areas are being urged to look for the red insects with white spots before traveling so they don’t accidentally spread them.

“They’re good hitchhikers. The nymphs will jump in cars. It’s summertime, it’s hot, people get out of their cars, they leave their windows open a little bit to let some air movement in there. These insects have been known to just crawl in there and be on the roof of your car, under your seat. They can hop on people’s clothes, on their backs.”

Tree of Heaven
Credit NJ Department of Agriculture

Zoltowski says the spotted lanternfly needs to feed on the invasive species Tree of Heaven to mature and lay eggs. He says the state is spot treating the trees with pesticides to try to get rid of those insects.

“They’re adapting pretty quick. We see them swarming. We see different behavior, things that no one has ever seen before. We see them feeding on Christmas trees. That has never been noticed before. It’s always tough to eradicate insect infestations. We have done it before. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort.”