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The invasive traffic light spot is back. Officials want you to squish them right away.

The spotted lantern is back. The invasive bug has been spotted in New Jersey and other parts of the country, and officials are urging people to kill a spotted lanternfly immediately if they see one.

New Jersey is on a crusade against the insects, which have often been spotted on or near beaches, because the lantern spot can feed on — and kill — about 70 different types of vegetation or trees. While it doesn’t harm people or animals, it is invasive — it’s not native to the U.S. and originated in Asia, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture says.

The Department announced this week that it will provide funding to all counties in the state to help control the invasion of traffic lights. Counties could receive up to $15,000 or possibly more for bug chemical treatment activities.

“The more participants we have in this program, the stronger our fight against this invasive threat will be,” said state Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.

“If you find any of these Spotted Lanternfly life stages, remove, deactivate, place in a sealed bag and dispose of the bag in the trash,” the NJDA advises.

Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

They prefer the Tree of Heaven, which is also invasive in the US, but can also be found on other trees. They’re considered “plant hoppers” — they can only fly a few feet, but often hitchhike on other modes of transportation to travel miles, the state Department of Agriculture says.

New Jersey officials urged drivers to inspect their cars for bugs and their eggs. Other items left outside, such as children’s toys, planters, motorcycles and basketball hoops, should also be inspected. “If you find any of these Spotted Lanternfly life stages, remove, deactivate, place in a sealed bag and throw the bag in the trash.” advises the department.

Officials in Mercer County, New Jersey advised people to use so-called circle traps, available for free at a local nature center, to capture the lamprey.

Adult traffic lights are back! 🌳Now is the best time to set cyclotraps on your trees and help reduce…

posted by Mercer County Park Commission on Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Last year, when lantern spot invaded parts of northeastern Penn State provided instructions on how to make your own traps.

The pests have also been spotted in Virginia this summer. Albemarle County is urging people to “report and stomp” any traffic lights they see, having been spotted along the River Rivana. The bugs are a major threat to vineyards and orchards, the county says.

Last year, the bugs were spotted in New York. The city parks department advised people to “Please squish and dispose of this invasive vermin.”

No matter how you kill the lamprey, there’s one goal: Stop the speckled invaders before they lay eggs and increase their population. “The lantern spot is currently reaching adulthood and will eventually begin laying egg masses that will hatch next spring,” says the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. “While the adult lanternfly cannot survive the winter temperatures, the egg masses are not affected.”

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