There are these pain-in-the-rear spotted lanternflies. And then there are the lanternflies Armand “Buddy” Rose is dealing with at his home in North Arlington.
Rose estimates he and his wife, Janet, have extinguished — mostly with fly swatters — nearly 1,000 of the invasive species. In the last month alone. His neighbors have had to deal with the pests themselves, so he’s hardly alone.
“They especially like the post on the deck that goes above the top railing,” Rose told The Observer. “They tell us we should squash them, but the thing is, that is very hard to do. They get away quick. So squashing doesn’t really work so well. So we’ve had to use fly swatters to get them.” They also occasionally perch high enough on his home and are out of reach from being killed.
Now, once the Roses kill the flies, they’d been leaving them, where they’re stomped out, with the hopes that some government official — state, local, anyone — would come to inspect and to learn just how bad the flies are in his Canterbury Avenue neighborhood. But so far, no luck.
And then, when it rains, they get washed away to their next (perhaps final) place of rest.
“I’ve called and they just say to squash them and then remove them,” Rose said. “But this is August. And they say these things mate in late August. So what is it going to be like next month or next summer? I don’t want to even think about what that will be like.”
The lanternflies are native to India, China and Vietnam and seemingly got to Jersey last summer, when the state’s Department of Agriculture first brought them to the public’s attention. They were first found in Ohio in 2014, the NJDOA said.
“This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops and hardwood trees. SLF feeds on the plant sap of many different plants including grapevines, maples, black walnut and other important plants in New Jersey,” the NJDOA said. “While it does not harm humans or animals, it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.”
But why should the average resident be concerned? Isn’t killing them enough?
SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a signiﬁcant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants and the feeding damage signiﬁcantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.
“As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps and other insects,” Agriculture said. “The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars and anything else found below SLF feeding.”
So with all this in mind, knowing health and agriculture authorities won’t visit your property to help stomp these nuisances out, what should you do — other than what Rose has already done?
Apparently, there’s really nothing else. At one point, the state wanted resident to report sightings. But they’re so widespread now, the reports don’t matter — and what’s the point, anyway, if nothing’s done after the reporting?
Still, you can help the spread from getting even worse than it already is. Essex County, for example, is already part of what the state calls a “Quarantine Zone,” where residents and business owners should pay extra special attention to the critters. Hudson and Bergen aren’t on the Quarantine Zone list (somehow) but probably should be if Rose’s example means anything.
Here’s how you can help — follow these steps.
Check Your Vehicle: Before leaving a parking lot or work site, inspect vehicles for spotted lanternfly egg or insects. Check doors, sides, bumpers, wheel wells, grills, and roofs. If found, destroy any eggs or insects you find.
Inspect Items Being Moved: Check shipping containers, propane tanks, pallets and other items being stored outdoors before they are moved off-site. Inspect incoming goods for egg masses and insects.
Park with Windows Closed: The spotted lanternfly and its nymphs can enter vehicles unsuspectedly. When parked, make sure to keep windows closed. If possible, try to park 15 feet away from trees if in a quarantine zone.
Remove and Destroy Pests: Crush nymphs and adult insects. Scrape egg masses into a plastic bag and place in trash.
Remove Host Trees: Spotted lanternflies prefer the ailanthus tree, also known as “Tree of Heaven.” Try to remove trees from the business property to avoid attracting spotted lanternfly.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.