Fellow citizens, New Jersey needs you!
Many of you have heard of the EAB Gang (Emerald Ash Borer) and the ALB Bunch (Asian Longhorned Beetle), but a new threat has ridden into town: the Spotted Lanternfly Gang.
Spotted Lanternfly Lycorma delicatula
Its status as a pest may have begun in South Korea, but this posse of planthoppers has hopped the oceans. Don't be fooled by these handsome rogues! Since 2014 they have been menacing Pennsylvania's townsfolk: robbing grape growers, raiding orchard farmers, and looting loggers. But now sightings are being reported in the Garden State, and the SL Gang is developing a taste for actual hops --save the beer!
Pure Gold, aka plant sap, that leafhoppers steal from plant tissue
Their targets are many and evolving, but what they aim to steal is sap. Evidence of their crimes can be seen in the weeping wounds on trees, which then attract other insects. Honeydew excreted during their heists may be colonized by Sooty Mold. Keep your eyes peeled for these signs!
Sooty Mold is a fungus that is mainly an aesthetic problem, but is a strong indicator
that insects with piercing/sucking mouthparts having harmed a plant
While these bandits are on the lam, be mindful of your own actions that could be aiding and abetting them, such as purchasing Christmas trees, or transporting firewood, lumber, brush and tree-trimmings onto or off your property. Their egg masses are so camouflaged that they are very hard to spot, especially on something seemingly innocuous like a pallet of bluestone for your patio. If you find these eggs (usually in May), scrape them off into a container of alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Can you see that? Keep your eyes sharp, pardner!
The notorious Lanternfly outlaws have been seen in cohoots with the Tree of Heaven Gang (Ailanthus altissima), an old ally from their shared homeland in the Indomalayan realm. While some who know what a noxious weed that tree is may feel delight in its supposed demise, the Lanternflies are not, in fact, feeding on it. Rather, the disreputable ToH Gang is supplying them with toxic metabolites, which help protect them against predation. Lawmen have been using this gang to trap the Lanternflies, and you can too if you have them in your territory!
Lanternflies are a serious threat coming to a backyard near you, and we are in a position to stop them! If you see these desperados on your fences, alert the authorities at the Department of Entomology at Rutgers.
"I'm your huckleberry."