Camden County seeing more reports of spotted lanternfly

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (WPVI) -- Camden County officials are seeing more spotted lanternflies, and the county entomologist wants to hear from anyone who sees them.

The lanternfly won't hurt or bite people: it's the trees and crops that are at risk.

Action News visited Lauren Segreto's Cherry Hill office, which is full of bugs.

But as the Camden County entomologist, that's pretty typical. Segreto spends much of her time studying mosquitos, but lately, she's been studying something larger - the spotted lanternfly.

"Now that we've opened it up so that we can tell people what number to call, the past couple of days I've gotten five complaints alone. Five sightings," Segreto said.

The spotted lanternfly has made its way into Camden County and Segreto is tracking its movements. It feasts on up to 70 kinds of plants and trees, which could be devastating to the Garden State.

"Hardwood trees, grapes, hops, ornamentals, a lot of different plants that could harm agriculture," she explained.

Right now in New Jersey, Warren, Hunterdon and Mercer counties are under quarantine, meaning anything that can harbor the lanternfly - things like vehicles, lawn waste, firewood - must be carefully checked before it's moved from the area.

Officials say as the lanternfly migrates south, they hope people will keep their eyes open.

"If you're leaving a quarantine area, they recommend that you check your car because there could either be adults or egg masses and then you would be transporting them," said Segreto.

Experts say the lanternfly is very attracted to the tree of heaven, which is an invasive plant. Removing this plant will help deter the lanternflies.

If you live in Camden County you can report any sightings directly to the county entomologist by calling (856) 374-6042. Anyone in New Jersey should report a sighting of the lanternfly to the state Dept. of Agriculture.
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