Confirmed “Hitch Hiker” bug sighting in Delaware

DOVER, Del. – “I looked on the ground and I thought what is this?” Yvonne Kirksey spotted something unusual while leaving work Monday morning.

A self-proclaimed “bug expert” she tells us that as she got a closer look she knew it was a dead spotted lanternfly.

Kirksey said, “I knew as soon as I saw that thing and I saw the wings I knew what it was.”

She says she picked up the bug, placed it in her coin purse and gave the department of agriculture a ring.

According to the Delaware Dept of Ag the bug she reported was, in fact, a spotted lanternfly or the “hitch-hiker bug.” The scientist we spoke to tells us they’re unique color and spotted wings make them stand out.

Stephen Hauss, an Environmental scientist within the department said, “They’re so colorful. It’s really easy to spot them.”

He also tells 47 ABC while they’re easy to spot, they’re also pretty dangerous to crops.

He says they are not native to the US and came here from Asia a few years ago. They’re known to feed on fruit trees and grape plants and “pierce and suck” nutrients out of plants, killing them.

If you spot one, Hauss says, “Kill it. Smash it first, ask questions later.”

The hitchhiker bug can easily reproduce, so the more we can do to control them, the better he says.

Hauss said, “Females can, at a time, lay 30-50 eggs but can lay them up to three times so it could be 150 eggs. The egg masses which they lay, those can survive though the winter.”

Experts say the hitchhiker bug will lay its eggs in a cluster on a branch and leave behind a clay like residue. That sets up an environment where where mold can grow on trees.

That’s why the Dept. of Ag says, “The most important thing we can stress for the public, if you see this thing, its awesome to look at its very cool, but please report it, and remember your ‘ABC’s’ always be crushing.”

With the community’s help of “always crushing,” and recognizing the bug and the eggs it lays, we can prevent them from coming back.

Hauss said, “If we were to find it in the fall we would be able to treat it in the spring before they even start hatching.”

Categories: Delaware, Local News