Perspective: 5th District
I recently attended a local meeting and a resident questioned me about a strange looking insect he noticed in his yard. From the description of the insect, I realized he was talking about the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF).
The Spotted Lanternfly is a new invasive insect pest that arrived via shipping containers from Asia to southeastern Pennsylvania. After first being found around Allentown, Pa. in 2014, they’ve been spreading out across the region and first crossed the Delaware River entering N.J. in Hunterdon County. They’ve spread slowly across the rest of the state, and were first reported in Atlantic County around Hammonton three years ago.
This year the front seems to be across Galloway and Hamilton Townships with higher populations emerging first in Hammonton and Buena Vista/ Buena Boro and moving to the southeast.
For homeowners, this insect is largely a nuisance pest because of the sheer numbers that emerge and their bright red, white and black markings make them especially obvious. They are mostly attracted to an imported plant species, the Tree of Heaven, as well as maples and grapes, but also feed on many other plants.
The most significant threat to agricultural crops is for our grape growers as the nymphs bore holes into stems to feed on the sap and damage caused by the high number of insects can reduce plant growth and production.
Unfortunately, though there are very few natural enemies of the Spotted Lanternfly here in the U.S., but they are very susceptible to many common household insecticides, and can also be trapped and killed.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of the NJ Agriculture Experiment Station created a resource website that provides detailed descriptions of the SLF, what it looks like, its life cycle and feeding habits, as well as control options. This information can be accessed at njaes.rutgers.edu/spotted-lanternfly/.
Belinda Chester, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Program Associate and coordinator of the Rutgers Master Gardener program for Atlantic County, has created a presentation about the SLF that will be available for viewing and dates are available throughout the late summer and fall to bring the presentation to your local organization.
For more info on scheduling a talk, please call (609) 625-0056. The presentation is not yet up on the website but will be shortly. I hope this helps answer what this strange-looking invader is and why all should be concerned.