Lanternfly Bugs Come to Hoboken: Here’s What to Do If You See One

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Wildlife spottings are increasingly common in our area, and not all of them are welcome. On the list of New Jersey Agricultural Department’s ‘report immediately’ (and destroy) are lanternfly bugs — which are an invasive planthopper bug. The insect has been spotted in Hoboken, and is detrimental to plants and our ecosystem.

lanterfly bugs new jersey hoboken

Photo: City of Hoboken via Twitter

About the Spotted Lanterfly

Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper native to China, India, and Vietnam; it is also established in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. It was first discovered in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in Berks County in 2014 and has spread to other counties in PA, as well as the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Connecticut and Ohio.

This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops and hardwood trees. SLF feeds on the plant sap of many different plants including grapevines, maples, black walnut, and other important plants in NJ. While it does not harm humans or animals, it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.

Why You Should Care

SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a significant nuisance, according to the New Jersey Division of Agriculture, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors.

The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants and the feeding damage significantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.

As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.

If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, it’s crucial to report it.

To report a sighting, use the reporting tool or call 833-4BADBUG (833-422-3284). For other questions, email SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov

According to the DOA, the Tree of Heaven seems to be its ‘preferred’ laying spot (though spotting it at Black Rail Coffee this morning, we beg to differ), and since surveying and treatments began in the state in 2018, more than 200,000 Trees of Heaven on almost 19,000 acres have been treated — but we even spotted one outside of Black Rail Coffee in Hoboken today.

New York residents can also report a sighting using the agriculture department’s online reporting tool. Additionally, residents should know the signs of a lanternfly infestation and be able to identify their eggs, as adults begin laying in September.

Signs of an infestation may include:

  1. Sap oozing or weeping from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear wet and give off fermented odors.
  2. One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
  3. Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold developing.
  4. If you see a spotted lanternfly somewhere other than New York or New Jersey, contact your state’s agriculture department.

“It will take a combined effort to help keep this pest from spreading,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture secretary Douglas Fisher shared in a statement.

To report a sighting, use the reporting tool or call 833-4BADBUG (833-422-3284). For other questions, email SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov. The DOA also encourages you to destroy the bug and any nest if spotted.


Written by:

Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HobokenGirl.com. With deep entrepreneurial roots in Hudson County — as her grandparents owned textile businesses on Tonnelle Ave in North Bergen dating back to the 50s — she started the site as a Hoboken resident to discover the amazing things happening in the area. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event or #HobokenGirlHelps volunteer project, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her two pups, or watching Bravo TV and ordering takeout with her husband.