USDA wants you to kill this bug on sight

Science

(WWLP) — The Department of Agriculture is asking residents in New England and beyond to kill one specific bug on sight.

That bug is the spotted lanternfly. It’s a colorful, polka-dotted moth that is completely harmless to humans, but it leaves a secretion that is extremely deadly to trees and other plants. Now, it’s been less than 10 years since the lanternfly was first spotted near Pennsylvania, but since then, it has spread all across the northeast.

It’s one bug the USDA doesn’t want you to feel bad about killing.

Full-sized spotted lanternflies are large, gray bugs, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings. Nymphs of the insect look black with white dots and older nymphs are red with black and white spots.

Where to spot a spotted lanternfly

Nymphs of SLF, from left to right, youngest to oldest (photo credit: Teá Kesting-Handly)

The bug can be found congregating on sides of buildings, in or on vehicles, or on plants they prefer to attack, including tree of heaven, grape, and walnut. They may attach themselves to goods being transported into the state from the following states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

What to do if you find a spotted lanternfly

If you happen to come across a spotted lanternfly, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources both encourage taking a photo or collecting the specimen and reporting it online. Search the area for both adult insects as well.

Massachusetts has identified the insect in the state several times in the last few years but no evidence shows that they have become established in the state.

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