If You Live in These States, the USDA Wants You to Kill This Bug
Look out for this insect that could cost some states millions.
Some bugs you probably have no problem squashing, whether it's because they're bothering you or really grossing you out. But others, with their stunning colors or intricate wings may give you pause. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is warning that one of the most uniquely beautiful bugs can actually be extremely detrimental and it now lurks in almost 20 percent of states in the country. In fact, if you see it, the USDA is asking you to kill it.
According to the USDA, the spotted lanternfly, which is recognizable due to its light brown or scarlet wings with black spots, is dangerous to our crops and economy. It has a voracious appetite for more than 70 plants, some of which are the U.S.'s most essential crops. Specifically, officials say these insects have the potential to "seriously impact the country's grape, orchard, and logging industries" in particular. The Penn State Extension explains that if the spotted lanternfly continues to go uncontrolled, the bugs could cost Pennsylvania at least $324 million a year and more than 2,800 jobs.
The USDA says the spotted lanternfly "spreads easily by hitchhiking on vehicles or laying its eggs on most any flat surface—like the sides of box cars, propane tanks, and equipment stored outside," which makes it especially important to check your car for these insects before driving out of state. They further instruct anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly to kill it, or specifically, to "remove and destroy them."
But it's not just the adult bugs you need to look out for. Nymphs of these insects are black with white spots and they turn red before becoming adults. Spotted lanternfly's eggs manifest in yellowish-brown masses that get covered with a gray, waxy coating right before they hatch. If you see them in any form, the USDA instructs you to "crush nymphs and adult insects" and "scrape egg masses into a plastic bag containing hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them."
Though the spotted lanternfly is native to China, it made its way over to the U.S. in 2014. According to the USDA, the bug was first detected in Pennsylvania, where the majority of them are still found. But over the last seven years, spotted lanternflies have spread to at least nine different U.S. states. To see if these insects are a threat where you live, read on.