Subject: What is This
Geographic location of the bug: Newark, NJ
Time: 09:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I’ve been here all my life and can’t imagine what this is.
How you want your letter signed: Northern non bug lover
Dear Northern non bug lover,
This is an invasive Spotted Lanternfly, not a species to love. The Spotted Lanternfly is native to Asia and according to BugGuide: “earliest NA record: PA 2014” and since then it has been reported in five states in addition to Pennsylvania. Your New Jersey sighting is not the first, and there are also sightings in New York, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Indications are that it will continue to spread. Though it has not yet been reported there, the Missouri Department of Conservation states: “The spotted lanternfly feeds on over 70 plant species, many of which are native to Missouri. SLF feeding activity can weaken plants, resulting in decline or even death. This invasive pest has the potential to damage Missouri native plants and forests.
As they feed on tree-of-heaven, spotted lanternflies may acquire chemicals from the plant that make them distasteful or toxic to predators.
In its native regions on the other side of the world — southern China, Taiwan, and Vietnam — the spotted lanternfly’s numbers are kept in check by predators and diseases.”