Middlesex Township mother and daughter determined to destroy every spotted lanternfly in backyard
Scientists have long warned that the invasive spotted lanternfly poses a big threat to crops.
This summer, the species arrived in New Jersey in such huge numbers that it's also becoming a backyard menace for homeowners.
But the insects chose the wrong yard to invade in Middlesex Township because 83-year-old Judi D'Amico is always destroying them with her trusty flyswatter. The yard of her daughter Janice D'Amico's home is swarming with the invasive insects.
Officials advise the public to kill spotted lanternflies if you spot them. For Judi D'Amico it's become a full-time job. She kills a few hundred on the trees, she comes back later and find hundreds more that have replaced them.
There's so many that fall from the trees and cover the house and cars after it rains. The tree sap and their feces are feeding mold on the ground that Janice D'Amico has to power wash off the patio.
RELATED: Have you seen a spotted lanternfly? Here’s what you need to know about the risk the invasive pest poses to our agriculture.
"They just keep coming back," Janice D'Amico says.
One also realizes that despite the orders residents are all under to squish them, they're here in such numbers that it seems largely hopeless as an actual mitigation strategy at this point.
What Janice D'Amico plans on doing is removing the tree on their side of the property line and to hopefully convince their neighbor to do the same.
The tree is an ailanthus, also known as "tree of heavens." They are also a harmful as the invasive pest themselves and the lanternflies prefer them over all others to eat the sap and lay their eggs, like a tag team of destruction.
New Jersey has so many "trees in heaven," it's part of the reason the state has become such a nice fit for the lanternfly and why New Jersey residents in 2021 suddenly find themselves with a new late summer pastime that may be more personally satisfying than it is environmentally effective: Fly squishing.
For residents and homeowners who are dealing with spotted lantern flies, the state department of agriculture web site has detailed information on how to handle them and help prevent their spread.