Sightings of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive planthopper that was ﬁrst discovered in the U.S. in 2014 have increased over the last couple of days, according to borough officials in both Monmouth and Ocean county.
According to the Department of Agriculture, spotted lanternflies are a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for plants and can be a signiﬁcant nuisance.
The Department of Agriculture recommends on its website that if you see a spotted lanternfly, you should help by stomping it out.
Lisa Lightbody, manager of marketing and social media at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk said that she saw lanternflies for the first time in Point Pleasant Beach on Tuesday.
Cindy Claus, director of Jenkinson’s aquarium said she saw three to four dozen of the lanternflies on the beach and landing along the boardwalk.
“At the aquarium we have a sign to show the public what they look like so they can try to eradicate them,” explained Ms. Claus.
“They are really pretty looking but they do a lot of damage to crops and trees so there really not good to have around here,” she added.
Mantoloking Councilwoman Barbara Benz reports a “sudden uptick” in lanternflies in the borough.
She said, “As you might have already noticed on our Facebook page, hundreds of them were spotted yesterday [Tuesday] by a resident on our beaches between Downer Avenue and the 1107 beach entrance … north of Downer between 1107 and 1105 Ocean Avenue. We suspect that this sudden insurgence was due to the west winds carrying them over the bay from Brick.
In Mantoloking, the borough is killing them by either smashing them or using a spray bottle of vinegar.”
According to Councilwoman Benz, due to a high number of reported infestations, Atlantic, Bergen, Cumberland, Hudson, Ocean, Passaic, and Sussex counties are all considered under quarantine.
She explained by email, “What this means for our residents is that when they drive into non-quarantined areas, they really should do a spot check of their vehicles to ensure that they aren’t transporting the flies. Start by checking the front of your car, checking in the crevasses of your tires, and then checking behind and underneath. While this is certainly a pain, these invasive bugs have the potential to wreak havoc on NJ’s agriculture. That is why the NJ Department of Agriculture encourages any sightings in non-quarantined areas to be reported by using the online Reporting Tool (https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/1d6503488aab4deab3dc9a2a874483a6) or calling 833-4BADBUG (833 422-3284).”
Belmar Chief Lifeguard Harry Harsin said, “Just yesterday we were inundated with [lantern flies], thousands of them all over the beach, affecting the patrons. People were saying that they’re in the water as well, flying in their hair and everything.”
Chief Harsin said that while the beaches were better as of Wednesday, the infestation on Tuesday was “pretty intense.”
He added that the borough has reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection, however they are still waiting on official protocol to promote killing the invasive bugs.
However, the chief said that “people kept swatting and killing them … There’s a whole infestation down there on the beach.”
“I haven’t seen something like that in a long time,” he said.
Spring Lake Beach Manager Lauren Gargiullo reported seeing lanternflies on Tuesday, as well.
She said on Wednesday, “We definitely are seeing less than we saw [on Tuesday]. But in terms of encouraging people to kill them, we’re actually checking with the DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] to see what the best way of managing them is.”
Brick Township Director of Recreation Daniel Santaniello said, “There was a west wind yesterday [Tuesday] and lifeguards thought it was bringing in black flies, but instead it was lantern flies.”
There were over 200 and they had to kill 100. He said they are not harmful like the black flies, but a nuisance. It was “protocol” with the health department for the beach patrol to handle the situation, he said.
Mr. Santaniello believes the south wind helped the flies move elsewhere since only two were spotted on the beach on Wednesday.
Kerry McGuigan, Administrator in Avon-By-The-Sea said there have been increased sightings of the lanternflies on Avon beaches, as well.
Spring Lake Heights resident Candace Clausell encountered and killed at least 200 lanternflies on her walk on the boardwalks of Spring Lake and Belmar on Tuesday.
STATE OFFERS ASSISTANCE
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced on Aug. 3 that reimbursement funding is available for all New Jersey counties for treatment of the spotted lanternfly. The funding amount can be as much as $15,000 and possibly more. The funds will be given to counties for costs they accrue for chemical treatment activities associated with spotted lanternfly control.
“This is an excellent opportunity for each county in New Jersey to take advantage of funding that can assist them in helping reduce the populations of this invasive pest,” NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “The more participants we have in this program, the stronger our fight will be against this invasive menace.”
The spotted lanternfly is currently reaching its adult stage and will eventually begin laying egg masses that will hatch next spring. While the adult spotted lanternfly cannot survive the winter temperatures, the egg masses are not affected, according to the NJ Department of Agriculture.