Spotted lanternfly creating big headaches for NJ homeowners

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- A small insect is creating big headaches in New Jersey.

The spotted laternfly can quickly multiply and love to feast on plants.

"They're named lanternflies because some of the species in this group have an ornate structure on their head that resembles a lantern that's kinda floating up above them," said Anne l. Nielsen, an entomology specialist at the Rutgers School of Environment and Biological Science.

The bright red, polka-dotted large bugs that hop around are unmistakeable and eye-catching, but are a nuisance for homeowners and a threat to New Jersey farms and vineyards.

From an agricultural standpoint, Nielsen said laternflies critical pest to the grapes.

She has been tracking the bug since it was first detected in New Jersey two years ago

"This is an invasive species that originated from Asia," Nielsen said. "They are a pest of agriculture or anything that is associated with humans, be it the landscaping trees in your backyard or the foods that we eat. This creates a significant pest problem."

Eight counties in New Jersey have have documented infestations, all of which are now under a voluntary quarantine.

"As part of that quarantine, businesses have to get a permit," Nielsen said. "It's a self inspection checklist to try to prevent the movement of lanternfiles to new areas."

As for homeowners, the infestation of thousands of lanternfiles are so much of a nuisance, several Facebook groups have been created to share their stories. A family in Pennsylvania used a 3D printer to create a trap to kill them.

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