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The invasive spotted lanternfly is back. Officials want you to immediately squish them.

Lab-raised bugs used to combat invasive species
Lab-raised bugs used to combat invasive species 02:22

The spotted lanternfly is back. The invasive bug has been spotted in New Jersey and other parts of the country, and officials are urging people to immediately kill a spotted lanternfly if they see one.

New Jersey is on a crusade against the insects, which have been frequently spotted on or near beaches, because the spotted lanternfly can feed on – and kill – about 70 different types of vegetation or trees. While it does not harm humans or animals, it is invasive – it is not native to the U.S. and comes from Asia, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture says. 

The department announced this week that it will be providing funding to all counties in the state to help control the spotted lanternfly invasion. Counties could receive as much as $15,000 or possibly more for chemical treatment activities against the bugs. 

"The more participants we have in this program, the stronger our fight will be against this invasive menace," state Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said.

"If you find any of these life stages of the Spotted Lanternfly, remove, devitalize, place in a sealed bag, and dispose of bag in the garbage," NJDA advises. Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

They prefer the Tree of Heaven, which is also invasive to the U.S., but can also be found in other trees. They are considered a "plant hopper" – they can only fly a few feet but often "hitchhike" on other modes of transportation to travel miles, the state Agriculture Department says. 

New Jersey officials urged drivers to inspect their cars for the bugs and their eggs. Other items left outside, like kids' toys, planters, motorcycles and basketball hoops, should also be inspected. "If you find any of these life stages of the Spotted Lanternfly, remove, devitalize, place in a sealed bag, and dispose of bag in the garbage," the department advises.

Officials in Mercer County, New Jersey advised people to use so-called circle traps, available for free at a local nature center, to capture the lanternfly. 

Adult Spotted Lanternflies are back! 🌳Now is the best time to set up circle traps on your trees and help decrease the...

Posted by Mercer County Park Commission on Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Last year, when the spotted lanternfly was invading parts of the Northeast, Penn State provided instructions on how to make your own traps.

The pests have also been spotted in Virginia this summer. Albemarle County is urging people to "report and stomp" any lanternflies they see, after they had been spotted along the Rivanna River. The bugs are a significant threat to vineyards and orchards, the county says.

Last year, the bugs were spotted in New York City. The city parks department advised people to "please squish and dispose of this invasive pest."

No matter how you kill the lanternfly, there is one goal: Stop the spotted invaders before they lay eggs and increase their population. "The spotted lanternfly is currently reaching its adult stage and will eventually begin laying egg masses that will hatch next spring," says the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. "While the adult spotted lanternfly cannot survive the winter temperatures, the egg masses are not affected."

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