NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York State Department of Agriculture is encouraging New Yorkers to kill the invasive spotted lanternfly.
Spotted lanternflies were first seen on Staten Island in August 2020 and have since been spotted across the five boroughs, Long Island, and the Northern Suburbs.
The agriculture department is partnering with other state and federal agencies to control the spread of lanternflies to other areas.
Officials say the bug feeds on 70 species of plants, including crops that are important to New York state's agricultural economy.
NYSIPM Interactive Spotted Lanternfly Map
Anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly is asked to fill out a survey so the Department of Agriculture can continue to collect data on areas most affected.
It comes after officials in New Jersey made a similar announcement about the destructive bug.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has started a campaign called "Join the battle, Beat the Bug, Stomp it Out, Stop the Spotted Lanternfly."
The spotted lanternfly does not harm humans or animals, but it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.
The pests -- which are native to Asia and known for their pale, pinkish gray wings, black dots and scarlet undercoat -- were first documented in Pennsylvania in 2014.
Despite their beauty, experts say when you see one -- have no mercy.
Spotted lanternflies begin as egg masses attached to trees in the springtime. Experts say you can use a credit card to scrape away those sacks before they hatch.
They often hitch a ride on cars, which can lead to their spread in the summer as people move around to places like the beach.
"We know it's an invasive insect," said Ruffian Tittmann, with the nonprofit Friends of the Wissahickon. "It has very few predators in this area. We should get out there and try to eradicate it or bring that population way down, so that we don't have some sort of mass fallout event with our habitat."
The Spotted Lanternfly Patrol says the bugs are easy to identify, and a fly swatter can be the great equalizer in this battle.
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