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Health Officials Want You to Kill This Instagram-Worthy Bug on Sight

A winged insect with spotted red wings sits on a tree.
Amy Lutz/Shutterstock.com

If you’re squeamish about killing bugs, now’s the time to look away. Experts and officials are calling on residents of Pennsylvania to kill spotted lanternflies on sight.

While spotted lanternflies are some of the most Instagram-worthy bugs with their colorful red wings and black speckles, they are a massive nuisance. From destroying trees and plant life to attracting other bugs to the area, you don’t want to spot one of these creatures.

The good news about them, though, is that they aren’t dangerous to humans or pets, so go ahead and mark it off your “Thing I’m Scared of” list. What you should really be frightened about is how it can wreck your yard.

The insects, which are an invasive species likely brought over from China via a shipping crate, feed on over 70 different varieties of trees and plants. A multitude of things in your yard are susceptible, but, perhaps, worse is what happens after it starts eating away at your landscaping.

The bugs secrete a substance called honeydew. It’s high in sugar and a substrate for mold and can wind up on your deck and other backyard structures. When in contact with plants, it stops the photosynthesis process which inevitably kills them. Then, thanks to that high sugar content, the honeydew actually attracts other bugs. Basically, it’s all a giant nightmare.

So, how do you spot them? Well, their spots. Lanternflies look quite a bit like moths, but their wings are a beige shade dotted with black specks. When their wings are open, a red layer is unveiled underneath.

As for killing them, well, squashing is always an option. However, pesticides and extreme heat or cold work too. If you live in Pennsylvania and prefer pacifistic ways, you can contact the Department of Agriculture to help you out.

While you might be tempted to snap a photo of these winged creatures, unfortunately, it’s best to get rid of them now before they spread beyond the Northeast.

Located in another part of the U.S.? Find out which is the biggest pest in your state.

[Via USA Today]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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