There's no downplaying the seriousness of the spotted lanternfly invasion in New Jersey. In fact, it got so bad in 2022 that reporting sightings almost became pointless.

All 21 counties were affected, with some areas dealing with huge infestations. With the spotted lanternfly population so high, how could there be a bright side?

Well, last year there was a small glimmer of hope that these pests might not be as bad as feared initially. Although, things could certainly change direction this year.

The small glimmer of hope of course refers to the minimal damage the spotted lanternflies caused last year throughout The Garden State. Although damage still occurred to vegetation, the amount of damage was smaller than anticipated.

That brings us to this year. Will the spotted lanternfly really be that bad in 2023?

Invasion of the Lanternflies
AP Photo

We all hope not, but it's hard to tell so early in the season. Perhaps the minimal damage they caused last year is a sign of what's to come in 2023.

Soon, New Jersey may get its first test. Those spotted lanternfly eggs are due to hatch soon (perhaps earlier than last year thanks to the mild winter we had), and it's those egg masses that cause the largest danger to trees.

Could we also experience minimal damage this year from this invasive species? It's certainly possible.

Our trees held up well in 2022 considering, and we'll know soon enough if that trend will continue for 2023 (Remember, those egg masses feed on the trees and can weaken them throughout the winter to the point of no return).

Nymphal instars of spotted lanternfly (New Jersey Department of Agriculture)
Nymphal instars of spotted lanternfly (New Jersey Department of Agriculture)

If our trees and vegetation can emerge against these pests and actually become stronger as a result, then maybe the spotted lanternfly will eventually be nothing but a major nuisance. That, of course, is the hope.

Another reason this year will be a true test has to do with the population explosion we saw with spotted lanternflies last year. The more insects mean the greater probability of egg masses.

Time will reveal how bad it really is, but you can still do your part in the meantime. If you see an eggmass, destroy it.

Spotted Lanternfly in Spadea's backyard
Spotted Lanternfly in Spadea's backyard

The tree of heaven is a particular concern as that's the spotted lanternflies' preferred tree to lay their eggs on. And this tree is everywhere in New Jersey.

Here's how to identify the tree of heaven, as well as how to identify the spotted lanternfly egg masses. But remember, their egg masses can be found on other species of trees as well.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

What to know about the spotted lanternfly and the tree of heaven in New Jersey

This is especially important now since the Spotted Lanternfly appears to be spreading to more parts of New Jersey. The tree of heaven is a very likely place to find those egg masses come fall.
Invasive Species Spotted Lanternfly Permeates Across Northeast With Fears They Could Spread Further
Getty Images

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