Spotted Lanternflies Are Flapping About Again. Squash Them!

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It’s peak summer in the U.S. and spotted lanternflies have graduated into full-grown adults that are flapping about in all their spotty glory. Another year of sighting these winged insects means another year for us to do our part in squishing lanternflies and eliminating them from our ecosystems.

These bugs are very striking to look at with their black and white spots, and brilliant red back wings. But spotted lanternflies aren’t native to the U.S., they’re swarming our ecosystems. They’re taking up space and resources that should be used by native insects. They were first noticed in Pennsylvania in 2014, spotted lanternflies are now up in New England and have spread as far away as Indiana.

These bugs are currently found especially in 14 states throughout the country including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. They drink the sap from trees and can be a risk to a variety of important crops and plants in the country including apples, hops, and grapes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Spotted lanternflies also create a sticky secretion called “honey dew.” It’s kinda gross and creates mold that spreads on plants.

If You See a Spotted Lanternfly, Kill It on Sight

If You See a Spotted Lanternfly, Kill It on Sight

Jessica Ware, an entomologist and an associate curator at the American Museum of Natural History, previously told Earther that concerned citizens should absolutely stomp out these bugs. “If you kill the juveniles before they become adults, that’s great because you kill them before they’re making the next generation,” Ware said earlier this year.

A few months ago, the lanternflies were small nymphs that had black bodies and white polka dots, according to Cornell University and New York State Integrated Pest Management. In late June and early July, they were in the later nymph phase—in this stage they are about 3 quarters of an inch long and have red, black, and white markings. And now, the nymph lanternflies have graduated to winged adults during this time of the year. And though many juveniles have survived into adulthood, their mating season isn’t officially until late August, according to Cornell University. There’s still time to kill these spotted lanternflies before the next generation comes around.

If you feel bad that you have to stomp on these interesting colored bugs, know that they’re agents of chaos. Just this week, several counties in Virginia are under quarantine due to an increase of spotted lanternfly sightings, WSLS 10 News reported. Wythe, Rockbridge, and Carroll counties, along with Lynchburg City were placed under quarantine starting August 1. This doesn’t mean that people can’t leave the affected areas. Truckers and others who transport goods have to carefully inspect their vehicles to ensure that lanternflies aren’t hitching a ride to infest other areas.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has offered a funding pot of more than $4 million to help municipalities reduce local populations, NJ.com reported. The infestation across the Northeast is so bad, that more than 100 municipalities applied for funding as of this past July.

Regional and statewide agricultural and university entomology departments are urging residents in affected areas to continue reporting bug sightings. Last year the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources asked residents to report sightings in this online form. Other departments have similar forms and contact options. Report the now adult spotted lanternflies. And then stomp them out.

Want more climate and environment stories? Check out Earther’s guides to decarbonizing your home, divesting from fossil fuels, packing a disaster go bag, and overcoming climate dread. And don’t miss our coverage of the latest IPCC climate report, the future of carbon dioxide removal, and the invasive plants you should rip to shreds.

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