Although it is called a fly, the spotted lanternfly is not a fly but a leaf-hopping insect that is thought to have been brought over to the United States via a shipment from China in 2012. This was traced back according to the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, which identified that the first infestation was found to be in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Some 10 states have since been infected, and many other state agriculture programs and committees are on the lookout for the insect.
The danger this poses is mainly to the crop yields that are grown within the United States, as well as disrupting the food chain within any ecosystem that it touches. Much of the state's agricultural regions are worried that the insect could make its way to the West Coast, which would largely affect the vineyards and grape production for the nation's most exported and enjoyed wine.
One of the most infested states with the spotted lanternfly is Connecticut. These invasive bugs have mostly made their home in the Northeastern United States, but have spread throughout the country and to other nations as well. The spotted lanternfly destroys the habitat in this region, as it is native to South America and the tropical jungles of Southeast Asian nations. Surrounding states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island have also been deeply affected by this invasive species.
It is said that New York has been ground zero for the lanternfly infestation, much to the state's dismay. New York is an important global shipping center, especially with partners in the Atlantic Ocean. The first lanternfly is theorized to have come aboard during a stone shipment from China into New York. This may be plausible, as China is the primary importer of many countries throughout Asia, meaning it would have been easy for a few of the insects to climb aboard during the supply chain, for example when China imports goods from Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos.
Despite the initial efforts in Pennsylvania to contain the insect, it has not been enough to stop the spread and multiplication of the species within other states, although it has helped to slow it down. New Jersey is one such affected state, which has introduced the "Stomp It Out" campaign, which is a fun way to get those within the state to destroy the bug by stomping on the bug with their feet.
Unfortunately, there are very few predators and parasites that are native to New Jersey that help to keep the spotted lanternflies in check, making it difficult to properly stop them from affecting crop yields or venturing into someone's home. With an abundance of food available for the bugs to multiply, more extreme measures may be needed to curb their spread. Many other options can be explored at this point, as the bug has been seen to be around residential properties, especially those that are further removed from large metropolises. Perhaps the introduction of a predator could be considered, as long as that predator does not interfere further with the ecosystem.
Spotted Lanternflies Found