Researchers work on best ways to combat New Jersey’s spotted lanternfly infestation

A lab at the New Jersey State Police Headquarters in Ewing is currently doing research on how to combat the invasive spotted lanternfly that is wreaking havoc across the state.
New Jersey Department of Agriculture entomologist Angela Loverno says that the research includes experimenting with the insect’s main food source - Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the Tree of Heaven.
“We’re experimenting with some other food sources as well, and we hope to see them start mating and laying eggs in the lab,” she says.
Loverno says that if they can have several generations of spotted lanternflies going, it would allow for further biocontrol opportunities.
“Rearing them in the lab looks a lot different than just picking them up for outside,” she says.
She says that there is also research going on at the federal level.
The state Department of Environmental Protection says that anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly out in the wild should destroy it.
They’re invasive because they have no natural predators, they have a high reproductive rate and they’re not native to the United States,” says Department of Agriculture division director Joe Zoltowski. “Think of it like almost like a fire started, you know, it started in Pennsylvania and it spread out in a circle. That’s kind of how they’re spreading.”
The insects have the largest impact on the vineyard and grape industry, as well as in orchards.