Lanternflies invade New Jersey; could put your wine at risk

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Attention wine lovers: A new invasive species of insect is invading the Garden State and it could be going after your wine.

The lanternfly has come to New Jersey and it puts vineyards and other plants all over the state at risk, according to science officials.

“Over in Pennsylvania, in some vineyards, this insect has already caused a 50%-loss of yield,” says Dr. George Hamilton, the chairman of the Rutgers University Department of Entomology.

Lanternflies are found of grapevines. They cover the leaves of the plants they inhabit with a honey-like substance, which can cause the plant to starve.

“The first report here in New Jersey was from a Christmas tree brought to Warren County, where the insects hatched while it was inside the house,” Hamilton says.

The tree was brought in from outside of New Jersey, according to state officials.

The lanternfly is considered so invasive, that even Rutgers University can't be in possession of a live one.

Weather has a big impact on the future of Lanternflies in the Garden State. A cold winter with an early frost could push the bugs back south. The state officials say that they are doing everything they can to get rid of these insects. But they want the public’s help.

“One of the things people can do here in New Jersey to help us is to report this insect when they find it,” Hamilton says.

Anyone who comes across a lanternfly bug is asked to take a picture with their phone GPS turned on. They should call 1-833-BAD-BUG-0 (1-833-233-2840) to make an official report.

And for those worried about their wine – state officials say that lanternflies have not been found at any New Jersey winery as of yet.

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