New Jersey is doing its own work to slow the advance of the spotted lanternfly, but as officials continue to receive calls about the exotic invasive insect, you're also being asked to help — by killing them.

"We are targeting areas where severe infestations have been confirmed, and we also encourage residents to destroy the spotted lanternfly if possible when they see it," said state Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. "It will take a combined effort to help keep this pest from spreading."

The spotted lanternfly, native to China and South Korea, reportedly arrived in the United States — specifically Berks County, Pennsylvania — in 2014. It's not a threat to human beings or animals but it is known to feed on 70 types of plants and trees. The insect is a plant hopper and can only fly short distances, according to the Department of Agriculture, but it's an "excellent hitchhiker and has been known to ride on any kind of transportation."

For that reason, eight New Jersey counties are under quarantine: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Somerset and Warren. With the designation, anyone who travels in these counties is asked to do a quick inspection of their vehicle for the spotted lanternfly before leaving. In Pennsylvania, 26 counties are currently under quarantine.

According to the Department, several crews are working throughout the state to treat areas where infestations have been reported. Treatments only occur on the tree of Heaven, a species of tree that's believed to be needed by the spotted lanternfly in order to reproduce.

Since 2018, when surveys and treatment for the insect began in New Jersey, treatment has occurred on more than 200,000 trees of Heaven, the Department said.

The spotted lanternfly will begin laying egg masses in September. If you see an egg mass, scrape it off, double bag it and then throw it away, the Department said. The masses can also be destroyed by alcohol, bleach or hand sanitizer.

Residents outside of the quarantine counties can report sightings, preferably with an exact address, by emailing Slf-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov or by calling 609-406-6943.

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