Meet the spotted lanternfly, the bug health officials are begging you to kill on sight

No matter how you kill bugs, there is one bug that the Northeastern United States Health officials ask you to immediately take care of: the spotted lampane.
Although it looks like a pretty colorful moth, it is actually an invasive species. It can cause havoc on trees and plants, which can lead to millions of dollars of damage.

The spotted lanternfly is a Chinese native, and George Hamilton (Rutgers University's department chair in entomology) believes that they arrived in America via a crate from China. These invasive insects, which are actually leafhoppers and not fly, were first discovered in Pennsylvania 10 years ago. They can now be found throughout the northeastern and mid-Atlantic from New York City's five boroughs to Indiana.

Because they are difficult to spot, they may have spread quickly. They can hide on packages and cars, and have become so widespread that New Jersey and other nearby states have issued quarantine orders asking people to inspect their cars before they travel. There are currently 34 counties in Pennsylvania under quarantine.

Hamilton said that they are "very good hitchhikers." "Most people don’t know they have them until the adult form is out."

The good news is that the insects can't hurt humans or pets. They can cause severe damage to plants, and have been known to eat over 70 types of trees and other plants.

The damage does not stop there. Amy Korman, Penn State Extension's horticulture educator, said that "what goes in must go out."

Honeydew is a sticky substance that spotted lanternflies produce. It's very sugary. This sticky substance is a mold substrate and can cause plants to die if it gets on them. This mold can be found in backyards or decks, and attracts many other insects.

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It seems fragile to me. Korman stated that it has been so successful in overtaking our landscapes. It's almost like the Pandora's box for problems.

The file photo of a spotted lanternfly in a Kutztown vineyard, Pennsylvania on September 19, 2019 is shown here. Officials from Rhode Island say that the insect, which can damage native trees and crops, was recently found in the state on Friday, August 6, 2021.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, they have destroyed vineyards across Pennsylvania. The College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State found that if this species isn’t controlled, it could cause a minimum of a $324million economic hit to the state and the loss of approximately 2,800 jobs. The worst case scenario would result in a loss of $554 million and nearly 5,000 jobs.

According to the study, current damage from spotted lanternflys is $50.1 million annually with 484 job losses.

Korman stated that this insect could be a major economic burden. We are still trying to find ways to manage this pest. "We have not yet figured out how to manage the insect populations.

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Although the state impacted by the spotted lampan fly have different ways of handling the population, they all share the same goal.

Hamilton stated, "First thing you should be doing is to kill it."

Hamilton suggested that if you aren't up for killing a spotted lampanfly, taking a photo of it is a better option than having to kill it. You can report it to the state's department or agriculture. Residents of Ohio can complete a form.

The control of the population can also be achieved by destroying eggs and scrapping them.

Korman stated, "The only good ones"

There are many ways to kill them. You can also kill them with extreme heat or cold.

Korman said that she has heard of many ways people have dealt with the insects. These include detergents, alcohol, and even kerosene.

Sometimes you just have to smile. It''s almost like you invented that recipe and thought it would work. She said. "I am always wondering what the next great home remedy will look like."

Follow Jordan Mendoza @jord_mendoza

This article was originally published on USA TODAY. See a spotted lanternfly living in PA, NY, and OH. It is best to kill it immediately.