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New Jersey drivers urged to check vehicles for invasive insects

New Jersey drivers urged to check vehicles for invasive insects
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine order for eight counties to help slow the spread of invasive spotted lanternflies. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Residents of eight New Jersey counties are being encouraged to inspect their cars before leaving the area to help curb the spread of invasive insects.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture said spotted lanternflies, a species native to China and South Korea, are suspected to be spreading in Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Somerset counties.

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The counties are being placed under quarantine to help slow the spread of the insects, which officials said pose a danger to more than 70 plant species.

"The department asks that anyone who travels in a quarantined county do a quick inspection of their vehicle for the spotted lanternfly before leaving," the Department of Agriculture said.

The statement said the species is known to be "an excellent hitchhiker." It first arrived in 2014 in Pennsylvania, where 26 counties are currently under quarantine.

"We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug," department Secretary Douglas Fisher said. "We are targeting areas where severe infestations have been confirmed, and we also encourage residents to destroy the spotted lanternfly if possible when they see it. It will take a combined effort to help keep this pest from spreading."

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