Quarantine bugging you? Imagine how New Jersey residents feel.
In addition to a series of coronavirus restrictions, state authorities have placed eight counties under additional quarantine because of an exotic and invasive insect known as the spotted lanternfly.
The insect, native to China and South Korea, poses a risk to more than 70 plant species, including fruit trees, vegetables and vines. It was first detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014.
Residents of the quarantined counties — Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Somerset — are urged to inspect their cars for the bug before leaving, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture said in a statement on August 12.
The spotted lanternfly is an “excellent hitchhiker” known for its ability to travel quickly by clinging onto vehicles. It’s believed to have traveled from China to Pennsylvania by hitching a ride on a shipment.
“We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug,” Douglas Fisher, department secretary, said in the statement.
“We are targeting areas where severe infestations have been confirmed, and we also encourage residents to destroy the spotted lanternfly if possible when they see it. It will take a combined effort to help keep this pest from spreading.”
Multiple crews throughout New Jersey are working to treat areas where the bug has been detected. Treatments are focused on the tree of heaven, which the spotted lanternfly prefers and is believed to need to reproduce.