Garden State Growers on Guard for Spotted Lanternfly Invasion

Garden State Growers on Guard for Spotted Lanternfly Invasion

spotted lanternfly

Spotted lanternfly is highly unusual, coming from a family that was thought to be no threat to fruit crops whatsoever. Photo by Erica Smyers, Penn State

In conjunction with USDA personnel, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) has announced another confirmed sighting of the spotted lanternfly in the state — this time in Hunterdon County. This is the third county affected in recent months. Hunterdon joins Mercer and Warren counties where the invasive pest has been positively identified. The first two sightings led the NJDA to quarantine the three counties last month in an effort to prevent the spread of the spotted lanternfly.

“The spotted lanternfly is in its full adult stage now and these adults are very good at hitchhiking,” stated New Jersey Department of Agriculture Plant Industry Division Director Joe Zoltowski. “While we have had numerous reports of individual sightings in the quarantined counties, we have found one substantial infestation in the landscape of southern Warren County.”

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In its full adult stage, the spotted lanternfly will lay egg masses on several different types of surfaces, including trees and any flat area, such as concrete, stone, as well as truck or trailer beds. Egg masses can be found on areas not easily seen, like the underside of tree limbs. The pest prefers Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) as its host, but can feed on 70 other different plant species, including fruit trees, ornamentals, woody trees, vegetables, herbs, and vine crops, including grapes and hops.

Business entities that travel in and out of the quarantine area are required to take and pass training regarding the spotted lanternfly that is available for free from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. New Jersey will accept and recognize the Pennsylvania permit. Those businesses that conduct business exclusively in New Jersey’s quarantine zone must comply with the details outlined in the quarantine order.

The spotted lanternfly, which is native to China, India, Vietnam, and East Asia, was first located in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has spread to 13 counties there, which also are quarantined.

According to NJDA, inspections will continue in the immediate areas where the species has been found as well as along the Delaware River border in New Jersey. If anyone sees a spotted lanternfly, they are encouraged to take a photo and dispose of it if possible and then notify the NJDA of its location.