An invasive pest that eats everything in sight has been found in certain parts of the Garden State, prompting officials to ask members of the public for help in reporting it if they see one.

According to state Department of Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher, small numbers of spotted lanternfly insects, originally from China and South Korea, have been found here.

“There have been very limited findings in Mercer, Hunterdon, Warren, Burlington, Cumberland Salem and Somerset, and there are other counties that will probably be added to the list," he said Tuesday.

He pointed out while the total number of spotted lanternflies in Jersey is believed to be extremely small, “they can be a menace to crops and so they are something we are on the lookout for to make sure that we are not having difficulty in our state.”

He explained the lanternfly is drawn to the Ailanthus tree, also known as the tree of heaven, so when people report seeing the lanternfly, a small insect that initially has black and white spots, the sighting will be confirmed and then the tree will be treated so the bugs will be wiped out before they are able to multiply.

Spotted lanternfly poster from the NJ Department of Agriculture.
Spotted lanternfly poster from the NJ Department of Agriculture.

He said to report a spotted lanternfly you can call 1-833-BAD-BUG-0.

“Right now they are not a problem in New Jersey, we are surveying to make sure it stays that way," he said.

Fisher said the Agriculture Department has 15 crews, along with four crews from the USDA checking on reports of spotted lanternfly bugs that are known to eat 70 types of trees, produce and grains.

He said no one is sure how the spotted lanternfly arrived from the East, but the bugs are tree-hoppers, and “the epicenter is in Pennsylvania.”

“Right now we’re in a very proactive stage. We want to make sure it doesn’t become a menace to New Jerseyans," he said.

“They’re here in very small, small limited numbers, not doing damage. (they) could do damage, but between our surveillance and treatment, it’s not a problem in New Jersey right now.”

More From Cat Country 107.3