Officials Warn Residents to Check Their Cars and Kill This Threatening Bug Species on Sight

New alarms are being raised as an invader moves into New York with millions of dollars on the line.

The spotted lanternfly is a “new threat to our ecology” Joseph Borelli, a Republican New York City Council member from Staten Island, said, according to The New York Times. New York state estimates its grape and apple crops have an annual value of $358 million.

“[P]ockets of Upstate New York are now infested by the bug that wreaks havoc on trees, vineyards and crops,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, according to The Hill. “This is a multi-million dollar threat to New York’s economy — both tourism and agriculture are now at risk if the spotted lanternfly goes unchecked.”

“We need to stomp out this bug before it spreads, otherwise our farmers and local businesses could face millions in damage and an unmanageable swarm,” he said.

As noted by Nexstar, the bug first noticed in 2014 is now a problem in 11 states: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Department of Agriculture said if unchecked, the spotted lanternfly “could seriously impact the country’s grape, orchard and logging industries.”

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Press Secretary Shannon Powers said stopping the spread of the bugs begins with vigilant drivers, according to WHTM-TV.

“They are on your car, and they hitch a ride to a new place on your car or maybe in a backpack if you’ve been out hiking,” Powers said.

“Look before you leave,” Powers said. “They do hide in nooks and crannies, and they’ve been shown to hang on when your car’s moving pretty fast.”

Jaeso Rich, who works at Spotify in New York City, has prowled his piece of Manhattan to do his part, according to the Guardian.

“I didn’t know up until yesterday that they were supposed to be killed,” he said. “But when I came today, I came to kill them. I came to protect the environment.”

Chris Logue, director for plant industry at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, said the bugs damage plants in two ways, according to SILive.

“It basically feeds on plant sap, and that’s important from the standpoint from the type of damage that it does, direct-feeding damage, which in particular has been seen on grapes, is really a large concern for us,” said Logue.

The spotted lanternfly creates a substance called honeydew that falls down on the plant material that it’s feeding upon. The honeydew can limit photosynthesis.

“We’re always concerned about invasive species,” Logue said. “This one is particularly challenging, because it does move in many different ways. And also it is very visible. And in areas where there are high populations, the general public does get very concerned about it. Our main focus here at the Department of Agriculture and Markets is the agricultural impacts ….”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.