North Carolina

Don’t let this invasive bug ‘hitchhike’ back from vacation with you, NC officials warn

What is an invasive species?

An invasive species is an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native.
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An invasive species is an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native.

If you’re traveling this summer, North Carolina officials want you to watch out for an invasive bug that could hitchhike home with you.

The spotted lanternfly is only an inch long, but it’s capable of causing “millions of dollars of damage” to trees, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The bugs are pests to maple and oak trees, willows, tree of heaven, grapes and apples, the department says on its website.

“This pest damages trees causing them to develop weeping wounds that leave a gray or black trail of sap down the trunk,” the department says. “This sap attracts other insects, such as wasps and ants, and can lead to the formation of fungal mats at the base of trees.”

The insect is native to China, but has been found in several northeastern states, the department says.

People traveling to or through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware or New Jersey this summer are asked to “wash and inspect” vehicles to make sure they don’t bring the bug back to North Carolina with them as it can “hitchhike” on cars, campers and other equipment, the department said.

The department also recommends not “moving firewood”

Adult spotted lanternflies and their eggs “pose the greatest risk for movement” and, in northern states, adults lay their eggs from July to December on any “outdoor flat surfaces,” the department says.

“We hope you enjoy your summer travels, and we appreciate your attention to ensure this pest does not hitch a ride home with you,” the department said.

No spotted lanternflies have been reported in North Carolina, the department says, but it is a problem in northern states.

In Pennsylvania, the pest is “reducing the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas” and threatening agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said.

But there are a few ways to control the insect, such as physical removal and pesticides, the department said.

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Bailey Aldridge is a reporter covering real-time news in North and South Carolina. She has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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