If you spot this insect, officials say to kill it. Here’s why

It turns out the United States has a new natural predator, and government officials say to kill it when you see it. Don’t be fooled by the spotted insect’s outer beauty. Known as the lanternfly, this bug can really wreck havoc.

Known scientifically as Lycorma delicatula, the lanternfly is known to be highly damaging to over 70 plant species — plants, fruits, and trees. Not only do these flies have enormous appetites, but they also reproduce maniacally.

While lanternflies don’t fly far, they tend to easily attach themselves to animals, humans, and cars.

The feeding process of the lanternfly produces a fluid called honeydew which promotes mold growth and weakens the health of plants.

All in all, these insects threaten to set back the fight against climate change.

First spotted in 2014 in Pennsylvania, the lanternfly is serious business. In fact, the state of Pennsylvania even issued the “Spotted Lanternfly Order of Quarantine and Treatment.” The order imposes fines including criminal penalties on people who intentionally move the bug from one spot to another through the use of RVs, grills, tractors, etc.

It’s not just having an effect in Pennsylvania. The Department of Agriculture of New York is also taking matters to their own hands. Being attracted to grapes, lanternflies are becoming an imminent threat to the vineyards of Finger Lakes and Long Island.
The state has in turn issued an order for people to collect these flies if they see one. They are asking folks to put the flies in a jar along with rubbing alcohol and then to freeze it (in order to kill it).

Meanwhile, researchers are trying their best to control the spotted lanternfly population before the insects create more trouble. In the midst of a climate crisis, there’s a need for swift action to protect the biodiversity of Earth. Watch out spotted lanternfly; we’re coming for you.