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Illinois reports first spotted lanternfly sighting

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Illinois reports first spotted lanternfly sighting

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  • Spotted lanternflies have reportedly been found in Illinois, making the state the latest to be affected by the invasive species.
  • Indigenous to East Asia, the pests have been subject to stomp-on-sight requests since they first appeared in the U.S. nearly 10 years ago.
  • While largely harmless to humans, the insects gather in masses to feed on, weaken, and kill native trees and other flora.

Illinois is the latest state to find invasive spotted lanternflies, a winged insect that’s spreading across the eastern U.S. and is subject to squish-on-sight requests in New York and elsewhere.

First detected in the U.S. nearly a decade ago, the hitchhiking pest and its eggs have been getting rides on vehicles and trains as they expand from southeast Pennsylvania across the country.

Although the inch-long planthopper looks pretty with its distinctive black spots and bright red wing markings, the sap-sucking bug likes to mass and feed on plants. It then excretes a sticky, sugary waste called honeydew that attracts insects and a form of sooty mold that can finish off the already weakened plants, posing a danger to crops and native trees. The gunk can also collect houses, decks and outdoor furniture.

SPOTTED LANTERNFLY ‘STOMP’ SEASON GAINS ATTENTION AS 14 STATES FIGHT THE INVASIVE PESTS: ‘EW’

The Illinois Department of Agriculture said a sighting of one of the winged adult insects was reported on Sept. 16 at an undisclosed location. Department staffers visited that area and found a “moderately populated area of spotted lanternfly.” After collecting specimens, officials confirmed Tuesday they are the first spotted lanternflies identified in the state.

adult spotted lanternfly in Westchester County

An adult spotted lanternfly is seen in Westchester County, New York. (Fox News Digital )

In Illinois, they’re not expected to cause “widespread plant or tree death” but will likely become a nuisance pest that “may have some impact on the agritourism industry, including orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards,” said Scott Schirmer, Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Nursery and Northern Field Office Section Manager.

SPOTTED LANTERNFLY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE INVASIVE INSECT

Anyone who sees the insects is encouraged to smash them or scrape the egg masses into a container with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them.

Native to eastern Asia, they’ve previously been confirmed in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, as well as parts of the southeastern U.S.

“Spotted lanternfly has been inching closer to the Midwest and Illinois for close to a decade,” said Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, in a statement.

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The public can help track the insects by reporting any sightings, including photos, to lanternfly@illinois.edu.

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