"Kill it! Squash it, smash it ... just get rid of it," is the official advice from the government of Pennsylvania for residents who encounter the spotted lanternfly. The insect, an invasive plant-hopping species from Asia first detected in the US in 2014, is considered a major threat to the state's agriculture industry, the Guardian reports. Some 34 of the state's 67 counties are now under a quarantine order regulating the movement of materials like landscaping waste or firewood that could harbor the insect. "In the fall, these bugs will lay egg masses with 30-50 eggs each," the state warns. "These are called bad bugs for a reason, don't let them take over your county next."
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says the spotted lanternfly can cause serious, sometimes fatal damage to trees, vines, and crops, NPR reports. When they feed, they "excrete a sugary substance, called honeydew, that encourages the growth of black sooty mold," the state says, warning that the insect could cost the state's economy hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The insect, believed to have first arrived from China up to a decade ago, has also been detected in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio, reports Lehigh Valley Live. Authorities in Rhode Island issued a warning earlier this month after a single insect was spotted in an industrial area of Warwick. (Read more invasive species stories.)