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Reports Of Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Up Almost 500%, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Says

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Reports of the invasive spotted lanternfly are way up in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says reports of the planthopper are up almost 500%.

You've probably seen them on a backyard tree, maybe one even flew into your face. The red spotted lanternfly seems to be everywhere.

"It is concerning," Karen Verderane, with the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, said.

Verderane says that's because it looks like this invasive species is here to stay.

"They will travel on vehicles and goods like firewood and furniture," Verderane said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says there has been nearly a 500% increase in reported spottings of the pest.

Officials say they've had more than 33,000 reports of the spotted lanternfly between Jan. 1 and July 17. People who spot spotted lanternfly are asked to kill it and report it to the state.

Many of the reports are mistaken. The state says reports from the Philadelphia region, however, are right about 90% of the time. One state agriculture employee said the insect is "hitting them in the face."

The spotted lanternfly can destroy trees, vineyards and other crops. One study even found the bug is costing Pennsylvania's economy about $50 million each year and could grow as high as $325 million and wipe out thousands of jobs.

Now, Verderane says it's everyone's responsibility to help control the population.

"Vigilance, reporting and good ole' squashing," Verderane said.

Most people only recognize the bug in its adult form with its bright red body and spotted wings, but Verderane says it's important to know how the pest looks in other stages of life.

"The egg masses look like somebody padded clay to a surface," Verderane said.

Those will start appearing in the fall and next spring, make sure to squish any red or black dotted bug about the size of a chocolate chip. That's the pesky bug in an earlier form of life.

"It is also very important to be vigilant, especially come September or October," Verderane said. "Then it will help keep numbers down next season."

You can get a sticky trap to trap the bugs or make your own circle trap with several things you have around the house. All you need is a milk jug, wire screen, wire, a plastic bag and tape.

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