Updated: Aug 9, 2022
As the spotted lanternfly has reached every corner of the state, Assemblywomen Piperno and Eulner are working to combat the insect invasion before lasting damage permanently changes the Garden State.
The spotted lanternfly is not harmful to humans but is devastating to plant life. These flies emit honeydew, which causes the growth of a black sooty moss that is deadly to whatever tree or plant they are inhabiting. As a result, the invasion of spotted lanternflies can cause serious economic damage to agricultural areas.
For over a year, the state has advised residents that the best thing they can do is stomp the bug should they see it, but that has proven far from effective.
Assemblywomen Piperno and Eulner have decided to be more proactive, sponsoring a bill that establishes a task force to finally find long-term workable strategies.
“The spotted lanternfly is tough because it has no natural predator. This means that it is up to us to find a way to mitigate their damage. A group that can coordinate efforts is common sense and badly needed,” said Piperno.
The task force would consist of leaders from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Commissioner of Health, the State Forester, and experts from the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers.
“Obviously our current strategy, if you would call it that, hasn’t worked. We need a more holistic approach before it’s a full-blown economic disaster” said Eulner.
The proposed bill outlines a variety of jobs delegated to the task force, including testing, creating policy, planning, and outlining long-term solutions for other insect infestations.
“This bill is a great way to not only address the spotted lanternfly issue but, as a travel hub for the east coast, we have to be better prepared for future threats other invasive species will pose,” said Piperno.
“Agriculture is a billion-dollar piece of our state’s economy. Our constituents’ livelihoods depend on not allowing this situation to get any worse. Our farmers deserve our support” said Eulner.