New York

When squashing isn’t enough: What to do if you spot a swarm of spotted lanternflies

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – More of the pesky spotted lanternflies are being spotted all over New Jersey and the Tri-State Area this summer. 

Officials say the population of the invasive bugs is exploding right now. 

CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports that residents in Jersey City over the weekend saw that first hand. 

It was like a scene from a scary movie: Tens of thousands of spotted lanternflies descended on an apartment building in downtown Jersey City this week. 

“They really, like, swarmed our building,” said Jersey City resident Ryan Zucker. 

By Friday, a few hundred of the pesky creatures remained alive. 

Zucker’s puppy Willie likes to eat them. 

“He’s probably doing good work for the community by killing them,” Zucker said. 

Just two blocks from the that massive infestation sits Van Vorst Park. Mark Wesson lives nearby, and is president of the group that maintains the green space. He worries about what will happen to all the trees he has planted if the pests make their way to it. 

“It’s tough to take care of what we have here. To have them come in here, we’d have a hard time controlling it,” Wesson said. 

Experts say the invasive bugs don’t hurt humans or animals, but they can cause damage to crops and hardwood trees. They’re spreading fast across New Jersey, and the Tri-State Area. 

Adult Spotted Lanterfly In Reading Pennsylvania
Reading, PA – September 28: A Spotted Lanternfly on a window ledge. Adult Spotted Lanternflies outside the Berks County Services Building in Reading, PA Monday afternoon September 28, 2020. The Spoted Lanternfly is an invasive species from Asia.

Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

So what can you do if you see one of them where you live? Well, you can squash it, but that doesn’t really work if there are thousands of them. 

Caloway asked Anne Nielson, a Rutgers professor who does research to help famers manage pests like the spotted lanternfly. 

“In my yard, I’ll go around and knock a bunch of them into soapy water,” Nielson said. “I don’t have thousands. I have a couple hundred. So it’s manageable.” 

For a major infestation, she recommends calling a pest control company. 

Spotted lanternflies don’t fly very far, but they spread by hitching a ride on our cars. So, what if you’re planning a road trip?

“Check your car. Kill what you find. Leave them there. Then go. So it’s a few minutes of your time to try and minimize that hitchhiking ability,” said Joe Zoltowski of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. 

At Van Vorst Park, Wesson has only spotted one lanternfly there, but he knows more are coming. 

“We’d hate to have them come in here,” Wesson said. 

As Caloway was filming, he noticed one at the entrance to the park. So he did his part, and squashed it. 

Officials in New York state will be speaking Monday about efforts to fight the spotted lanternfly. 

Nick Caloway contributed to this report. 

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