New Brunswick, N.J. (Oct. 1, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor George C. Hamilton and Associate Professor Anne L. Nielsen can discuss the spread of and threat posed by the invasive spotted lanternfly, a destructive pest, in New Jersey.
“Their number and range expanded this year,” said Hamilton, a professor who chairs the Department of Entomology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “The adults are still very active, and mating and egg laying has started. This will continue until we get cold enough temperatures to kill the adults.”
The spotted lanternfly – Lycorma delicatula, a colorful Asian planthopper – could be harmful to some New Jersey crops and hardwood trees. The insect was accidentally introduced into Pennsylvania, confirmed in that state in 2014 and spread to New Jersey and several other states.
The N.J. Department of Agriculture has imposed a quarantine in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Somerset and Warren counties. The quarantine requires people and businesses to inspect their vehicles for hitchhiking spotted lanternflies and outdoor items such as firewood, paving stones and lawn equipment for egg masses when they travel or move these items to areas outside the quarantine area. The spotted lanternfly can feed on more than 70 plant species, including cultivated grapes and hops, fruit trees (apple and peach) and hardwood trees (black walnut and red maple).
The insect has been found in commercial vineyards in New Jersey, according to Nielsen, an associate professor in the Department of Entomology and extension specialist in fruit entomology at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Bridgeton.
“New Jersey vineyards are quite concerned about the spotted lanternfly and those with populations are implementing management tactics to avoid economic impacts,” Nielsen said. “My lab has been collaborating with vineyard managers to study lanternfly behavior and identify innovative management solutions. Currently, we are not seeing significant populations in New Jersey tree fruit (peaches or apples).”
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