Several East Coast States Are Being Warned to Lookout for Spotted Lanternflies — Here's Why They're So Dangerous

Kelly Corbett
·2 min read
Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images
Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

There are a lot of critters buzzing around this year and not all of them play nice. As we know, both murder hornets and EEE-carrying mosquitos have been spotted in the United States and pose a major threat to human life. Also, the 17-year-periodic cicadas have returned to ravage on plant life—and yes, some of them are even zombies.

Well, here's another bug to have on your radar: the spotted lanternfly, This insects is typically an inch long and is characterized by its reddish, polka-dotted wings. While it sounds like a friendly, almost cutesy insect, it actually poses a major threat to agriculture.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this rare and ferocious critter has been spotted in the following states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. However, because is it an invasive species, the USDA warns all states to be on the lookout.

The pest, which is native to China, feeds on more than 70 plant species, including a wide range of fruits and trees. All of this feeding can make plants vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects—which in short, can lead these plants to die off. To make things even worse, this invasive species can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. Eggs are typically laid in September and resemble mud.

As the USDA lists, the following plant life is at risk: almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, hops, maple trees, nectarines, oak trees, peaches, pine trees, plums, poplar trees, sycamore trees, walnut trees, and willow trees.

For some background, the spotted lanternfly was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014—and has since been returning in large numbers. They have had detrimental effects on not just the state's crops, but also its economy. In a Penn State study released earlier this year, it was reported that this particular invasive species has cost the Pennsylvania economy about $50.1 million as well as the elimination of nearly 500 jobs each year. The study predicted that if the influx of spotted lanternflies continues, the annual repercussions will only continue to worsen.

The USDA asks that if you come upon a spotted lanternfly, you report it to your State Agriculture Department or State Plant Regulatory Official.

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