The time is now to prevent an even further expansion of the destructive spotted lanternfly species in New Jersey, according to officials in Burlington County who are issuing resources and recommendations to residents.

Burlington is one of eight "quarantined" counties in the state where residents are being especially asked to keep their eyes peeled, joining Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Somerset, and Warren. People in these counties are no longer being advised to contact the county or state with reports of spotted lanternflies, as it is understood they are prevalent throughout.

One novel appeal Burlington County is making to locals is to stop buying, and stop supporting organizations that sell, exotic or non-native plants.

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"By planting native plants, we provide animals with the food and shelter they need, while ensuring that non-native plants don't become invasive and harbor non-native pests," the county said in its release.

While the spotted lanternfly does not kill plants, officials say, the fruit produced from those plants can be "unmarketable," endangering New Jersey's agricultural production.

The grayish to light tan egg masses laid by the insects, often resembling smudges of cracked mud, are expected to appear for the most part from late September through late April in Burlington County.

Safely scraping these masses into a bag, and discarding of them, "greatly limits the number of lanternflies we will have the following spring," the county said.

Officials have provided a YouTube tutorial on egg mass removal here.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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