LAKE COMO — Sightings of the spotted lanternfly– a native Asian invasive species discovered in the U.S. in 2014– have increased over the past few weeks in areas all around New Jersey including Monmouth County and its shore towns.
The Department of Agriculture states that spotted lanternflies are a plant-hopping pest with an appetite for over 70 plant species and can cause damage to the environments in which it invades. The species can travel over multiple miles on any kind of transportation, and is an excellent “hitchhiker.” It is important to “stomp it out” when seeing one, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The website states that the fly turns red with white dots when “the bug reaches full maturity [around] mid-to-late August when it begins laying egg masses that will hatch next spring.”
Marilyn Webber, environmental commission chair, explained how these insects do not harm human or animals but destroy important crops.
John Gibbons, Lake Como’s founder of Candide’s Garden and a master gardener, said, “It’s a newer invasive bug. Every so often, a new terrible bug comes along with no predators, so it just takes over because nothing else will eat it. This one is particularly nasty because it eats a lot of different things.”
“There are these invasions that come over on things like freighters, and once they get here, they are difficult to stop… We have to be serious about trying to do something about it. We’re not always successful, but we can reduce the damage by people taking action,” said Mr. Gibbons.