Illinois Residents: If You See One Of These Bugs, Kill It ASAP
This may be the first time that I've ever written the words "kill it ASAP" for publication (that you know of). However, this is also the first time that I've seen bug experts (or, entomologists, to be precise) also saying "kill it immediately," so there's that.
The bug that will do its best to avoid the kill-on-sight-order is called the Spotted Lanternfly.
You're probably figuring that we're supposed to whack these guys because they sting or bite, maybe they're venomous or secrete a toxic substance that can kill or sicken a human being. But, that's not the reason.
If They Don't Bite Or Sting, Why Are We Supposed To Kill Them On Sight?
Spotted Lanternflies cause serious damage to trees, like oozing sap, wilting, and leaf curling. When they really get down to business, they'll cause trees, vines, crops, and a host of other types of plants to die, too.
As the University Of Illinois Extension explains, it's not just the feeding on plants, trees, and vines. When you eat a lot, you poop a lot, and Spotted Lanternfly poop is also a problem:
...spotted lanternflies produce a lot of honeydew (a sticky, sugary substance excreted/pooped out by some insect). Sooty mold may then start to grow on this honeydew. While sooty mold does not feed on the plant itself, it can block light from reaching the leaves and reduce photosynthesis, further weakening the plant.
Why Have I Not Heard Of Spotted Lanternflies Before?
It might be because we just found them here in the United States in 2012. Spotted lanternflies are native to China, India, and Vietnam. Experts think they were introduced into the U.S. on a shipment of stone. Like lots of other invasive species, we didn't know they were here at first. They were first discovered in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since that time, they have spread to Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio.
Spotted Lanternflies haven't made it to Illinois yet (that we know of), but the University of Illinois Extension thinks that may soon change, as they've called the Spotted Lanternfly "Illinois' Most Unwanted Bug":
In 2019 some researchers with the USDA did some modeling to see what parts of the United States had a suitable environment for spotted lanternfly. Unfortunately, most of Illinois has a highly suitable environment for spotted lanternfly.