Destructive lanternfly spotted in Camden County

Mark Abrams
August 25, 2019 - 4:00 am
Spotted lanternfly

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CAMDEN COUNTY N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Camden County officials are turning to the public for help in tracking a new threat to South Jersey's agricultural community.

The spotted lanternfly has arrived in Camden County, according to Camden County spokesman Dan Keashan.

"We've received two calls in Cherry Hill," Keashan said. "Ironically, one in the county park system. Another one by an arborist who was working in Haddon Heights. So, they are here. We have identified them and now we're asking for the public's help to eliminate these insects."

Officials believe the invasive pests attached themselves to cars coming into the Garden State from areas of Pennsylvania where the spotted lanternfly has spread.

He said officials are asking residents to funnel reports to "our local entomologist here with the county who also will be coordinating with the Department of Agriculture in the state to identify and ultimately eliminate or destroy not only the spotted lanternfly itself, but also if any egg masses are identified on trees.”

He said the bugs feast on grapes, fruit trees and hardwood and ornamental trees.

"(They are an) invasive species that can cause what is up to billions of dollars in damages to plants and crops in the area," Keashan added.

Keashan offered a simple suggestion for preventing the bugs from spreading: "If you are to see a spotted lanternfly on your vehicle, please do not get in the car and drive with it on there and when it flies off you can forget about it," Keashan said. "That is actually the main mode of transportation right now for these insects."

Instead, he said, kill it before you move the car, and check the vehicle to see whether any other uninvited hitchhikers are attached.