New Jersey agriculture officials continue to keep a wary eye out for the spotted lantern fly, a pest from Asia that has found its way to nearby Pennsylvania counties.

Joe Zolkowski, director of the Division of Plant Industry at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, says the bug destroys crops and trees by sucking out their sap.

"There is a nymphal stage: They are really distinctive looking when they first hatch out, they are black, jet black, with white spots on their back. Then as they get older, they become red with white spots on the back. Around June/July, as they become adults with wings, they are plant hoppers.

"They do not chew on things, but they suck the sap out of trees and vegetables and crops, especially grapes.

"Besides degrading the crop, they also produce large amounts of honey dew, which acts as a source for sooty mold to grow on."

Zolkowski says they are trying to proactively spot the little hitchhiker before it arrives here.

Officials urge Jersey residents to look out for the hitchhiking bug on their vehicles or clothing, especially after returning from Pennsylvania.

Pest control measures have had some success. The tree-banding method involves applying a glue barrier to the tree trunk and insects are trapped as they climb the tree.

Anyone who sees the bug in New Jersey is asked to take a picture and email it to or call the agency at 609-406-6939.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5


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