Spotted lanternfly infestations have been recorded in nearly every county in New Jersey up until this year.
The invasive species from Asia began its 2022 life cycle in the Garden State. For now, they don’t have the ability to fly. So you may be in the best position to crush the bugs and reduce the population (yes, officials and experts are calling on you to kill these pests).
The hundreds of millions of eggs laid last year have hatched, and now they are striving to become the majestic, winged creatures that many New Jerseyans have become all too familiar with over the past few years.
Still in the pupal stage at this time of year, looking like a black tick engorged with white dots, they may not be so easy to spot. But they don’t have wings yet, only the ability to jump.
“They’re kind of a captive audience,” said Joe Zoltowski, director of the plant industry division at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. “You have a better chance of getting a bigger population reduction because they don’t have that ability to fly away.”
Soon they will turn into the next nymphal stage, red and a bit larger with black stripes and white dots, but still not able to fly.
They will begin swarming around the state as true Mottled Lanterns in July and fade towards the end of the calendar year, but not before laying another set of eggs to start the cycle over again.
“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes processing that people don’t see,” Zoltowski said.
Since February 2022a spotted midge infestation had been recorded in every New Jersey county except Cape May.
Thirteen counties – Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Salem, Somerset, Union and Warren – remain part of the state’s “quarantine zone” for Mottled Lanterns.
Area residents are required to use a checklist before moving any of the listed items here. The list includes dozens of items, including bicycles, motorhomes, firewood, fences, lawn mowers and sandboxes.
Additionally, area residents are urged to check their vehicles before leaving the area, “as the spotted lanternfly has the ability to hitchhike any vehicle for several miles.”
Zoltowski noted that insects are strong hitchhikers even in the nymphal stage.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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