The New Jersey State Department of Agriculture (NJDA) has extended a quarantine designed to prevent the spread of the invasive Spotted Lanternfly, a leaf-hopping insect that feeds on up to 70 different species of hardwood trees and shrubs. While the insect has not yet been reported in Sussex County, sightings have been verified in nearby Warren County, which is under the quarantine along with Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, and Somerset Counties.
The NJDA quarantine regulates the movement of products on which the egg masses could be hidden, including landscaping and construction waste, firewood or any other lumber, packing materials, and household outdoor articles like lawn furniture, garden tractors, or RVs. Any business wishing to move these items from the quarantined counties is required to get a permit, and individuals should perform a self-checklist. Information on both these procedures, as well as additional information on the insect and its life stages can be found at https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/spottedlanternfly.html.
The insect, the adult of which measures 1 to 1.5 inches long and has two pairs of tan and red wings with black spots, begins to lay its eggs in September, and all New Jersey residents are encouraged to be on the lookout for the egg masses, which resemble putty or spackle when dry. While the insect prefers the Tree of Heaven (ailanthus tree), eggs can be laid on any hardwood trunk or smooth surface, such as the metal of a car or other outdoor fixtures. If the egg masses are found, they should be destroyed immediately by scraping into a vessel and being drowned with alcohol, bleach or hand sanitizer.
Anyone finding the egg masses should report their sighting by emailing a photo to SLFfirstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-833-BAD-BUG0 (233-2840).