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Spotted lanternfly found for first time in Illinois

Spotted lanternfly discovered in Illinois
Spotted lanternfly discovered in Illinois 00:32

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The spotted lanternfly is a striking creature – with an array of black polka dots on its wings and a pair of strips of bright red on its underwings.

But the spotted lanternfly is also an invasive species, and if you see one, officials want you to stomp it with your shoe.

An invasive spotted lanternfly Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Agriculture confirmed that the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma deliculata) has appeared for the first time in Illinois – though the department did not specify exactly where the spotting was.

State, federal, and local officials visited the site near the area where the insects were reported and found a moderately populated area of spotted lanternflies on Monday last week, the department said.

The department emphasized that the spotted lanternfly is not dangerous to the health or safety of humans or animals.

But it is still no friend of ours. And again, you're supposed to stomp it with your shoe.

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper native to China. It was first spotted in southeast Pennsylvania in September 2014 and spread throughout the East Coast.

In New Jersey, spotted lanternflies have invaded Jersey Shore beaches. They have also been swarming in New York City since 2020.

In Westchester County, just north of New York City, the Parks Department has used a vacuum that looks like the proton pack from "Ghostbusters" to suck the swarms of spotted lanternflies off trees.


In August, Tony Aiello of CBS 2 New York noted that a swarm of lanternflies on a tree even smells – giving off "a sickly, sweet, fermented scent caused by a waste byproduct after the lanternflies finish feasting."

Spotted lanternflies can feed on and kill around 70 types of trees and plants – including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts, and hardwood trees. CBS 2 in New York noted that there are now serious concerns about the vineyards in the winemaking regions of Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.

The spotted lanternfly has also spread farther west – and has become a problem in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

In Illinois, officials do not think the spotted lanternfly will be a crop-destroying pest. But they still want you to stomp them silly once you photograph them for a report.

"If there is a silver lining associated with spotted lanternfly in Illinois, it is that we have no reason to believe that widespread plant or tree death will result from its presence," Scott Schirmer, the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Nursery and Northern Field Office Section Manager, said in a news release. 

"This is likely going to be a nuisance pest that interferes with our ability to enjoy outdoor spaces and may impact the agritourism industry, including orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards."

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II said the spotted lanternfly has been inching in the direction of Illinois for nearly a decade.

"We have had a multi-agency team working to prepare for this scenario – including efforts on readiness, informing and educating the industry and the public, as well as monitoring early detection," Costello said in the news release.

The spotted lanternfly is believed to move easily on wood surfaces and products, vehicles such as trains, and outdoor articles, the state Department of Agriculture said.

Anyone who spots a spotted lanternfly should report it to Photos are needed to verify a report and should be taken before killing the insects.

Once again, officials spotted lanternflies are to be stomped dead. Nymphs and adults should be squished, while egg masses should be scraped into containers of hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. But the Illinois Department of Agriculture wants people to take photos first and make reports.

Vehicles, boats, campers, and outdoor articles should also be checked for spotted lanternflies or eggs.

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