If you see a spotted lantern fly, squash it immediately, warn authorities

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When you see a bug out in the wild, and not in the privacy of your home, experts usually encourage you to leave it alone. Usually, insects don’t harm anyone when they are outdoors, and they are often an important part of the ecosystem. There is one bug, however, that is taking over several states in the United States, and it poses a significant threat to the economy. Officials across the country have advised that if you see this bug, you squash it immediately. Read on to find out which insect you should watch out for.

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Officials in states that have been overrun with spotted lanterns don’t mince words: they want you to kill any of these bugs you see. The visually appealing spotted lanterns – with light brown or scarlet wings and black spots – may look innocent, but experts warn they could cost some states millions of dollars. Since these insects can’t fly too far, they will hitchhike on anything they can, including you, your car, or your bag.

“I can’t think of something they don’t lay their eggs on: fabric, metal, furniture, sides of buildings and, of course, trees.” Ronnit Bendavid-Val, the director of horticulture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, said The New York Times. Since there are no natural predators that feed on spotted lanterns, and organic pesticides aren’t enough to kill them, officials say we have to do it on our own. If you see one, “crush it,” Bendavid-Val said. “That’s the message.” The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agrees that you should kill this bug.

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Close up of spotted lantern infestation.  Taken in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 2019
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If you love wine, apples, and access to wood, you should take your job of killing spotted lanterns seriously. According to the USDA, these insects pose a threat to more than a dozen essential crops, including almonds, hops, plums, apricots and six different trees. The spotted lanterns have the greatest potential to “have a serious impact on the country’s vine, orchard and logging industries” in particular.

According to Penn State Extension, if the spotted lantern population continues to get out of hand, the bugs could cost Pennsylvania at least $ 324 million a year and more than 2,800 jobs. And this is not the only condition affected by this insect.

An adult Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) on a tree in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Jana Shea / Shutterstock

So far, spotted lanterns have been reported in nine states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Pennsylvania has seen the greatest amount of these insects, probably because this is where the spotted lantern fly was first reported in the United States, in 2014. State officials have gone so far as to find it. ” to issue a quarantine and treatment order for the spotted lantern fly. This ordinance allows authorities to impose fines and potentially criminal penalties on anyone who intentionally moves a spotted lantern.

The bugs have recently traveled to New York City in droves, which could prove particularly problematic as spotted lanterns could decimate the many wineries in the upstate and Long Island. A resident, Damien Biollo, Recount The New York Times that he was able to kill 76 in a day, 40 in a matter of minutes, because they were everywhere.

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Spotted lantern on a car
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Beyond eradicating the virus, there are a few additional steps you can take to prevent the spread of this invasive species. The USDA urges you to check your vehicle for hitchhiking bugs or egg bags to make sure you don’t accidentally carry them. If you see a bag of eggs, scrape it “in a plastic bag with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them,” according to the USDA.

When you park, make sure your windows are closed so the insect doesn’t jump inside for a ride. In addition, report any observations of the bug to the local authorities listed on the USDA website.

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