Spotted lanternfly ‘stomp’ season gains attention as 14 states fight the invasive pests: ‘Ew’

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Social media users and authorities agree that it’s “stomp” the spotted lanternfly season.

The invasive insect, which is native to China and parts of Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and India, has spread and multiplied in 14 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Spotted lanternflies were first detected on trees and fruit in Pennsylvania in September 2014, and now they can be found in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia, the USDA reported.

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Americans who are dealing with lanternfly infestations appear to be sharing photos and videos of the spotted insects with fascination and disgust.

“I believe I speak for millions of people when I say ‘Ew,’” one Instagram user wrote under a lanternfly compilation video uploaded by “What Is New York” — a meme page that documents NYC oddities, which is often sourced from user submissions. 

The compilation shows lanternflies swarming the sides of buildings, sidewalks and ledges. Some of the bugs are even seen crawling on people.

Over 134,690 people have liked the post on Instagram and have left their thoughts in the comments section.

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“Where’s all the birds that love to eat insects,” one Instagram user questioned. “Rats need to get in on this.”

“One flew down my shirt the other day,” another user wrote with a cry face emoji.

“They done packed up and left my area of PA….they fit right in with yall,” another user quipped.

“Making my way downtown, crush and smash, boy they fast, and I’m homebound,” another user joked, referencing the song “A Thousand Miles” by musical artist Vanessa Carlton.

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While many social media users write that they’re grossed out by spotted lanternflies, government agencies are asking the public to kill the insects on sight.

Wildlife, nature and agriculture departments across the 14 states have launched public service announcements that encourage people to crush spotted lantern flies.

In August, the State of New York asked the public to “do your part” and “stomp out the spotted lanternfly.”

Similarly, the State of New Jersey launched a “Stomp it Out!” campaign in 2021 in response to the pests, and official have been reminding residents to step on lanternflies. 

Other states have launched similar campaigns, but not always with a catchy slogan.

Multiple government agencies state that lanternflies should be killed because they’re an invasive species that feed on more than 70 types on plants, which pose a threat to ecosystems.

The USDA says lanternflies could pose a risk to various crops, including almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, hops, maple trees, nectarines, oak trees, peaches, pine trees, plums, poplar trees, sycamore trees, walnut trees and willow trees.

Plants that are infested with lanternflies can ooze, weep, develop a sticky fluid, sooty mold or a fermented odor, according to the USDA.

“If you find this pest outside of a spotted lanternfly quarantine area, please take a picture of it and note the location to report it to your State Department of Agriculture before killing it,” the agency wrote in a lanternfly profile.

Lanternflies gained national attention last year when Americans apparently became more aware of the invasive species’ presence. 

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