The state is issuing an emergency quarantine in much of northern New Castle County to prevent the spread of an invasive bug.
The spotted lantern fly was first spotted in Wilmington in 2017 and several established populations have since been found in the area.
Delaware’s Department of Agriculture is calling for the quarantine of 11 New Castle County zip codes to stop the spread and eradicate the intruders before their eggs hatch this spring. The quarantined zip codes have been identified as having existing spotted lantern fly populations.
Female spotted lantern flies lay egg masses of 30-50 egg, usually outdoors on flat surfaces.
Under the quarantine, any item or material that can harbor the nests cannot be transported without taking precautions. The Ag Department has a list of regulated articles available online, and a permit process for moving those items.
Department of Ag spokeswoman Stacey Hofmann says there’s a plant-pest law that allows her agency to issue civil penalties if citizens don’t comply.
“We’re not going to be out doing a checkpoint, making sure you have your compliance paper with you, but if we do find that it’s moved out of the area, moved out of the quarantine zone and it’s intentionally done, then we will be forced to leverage those civil penalties,” she said.
The following zip codes have been quarantined in their entirety: 19702, 19703, 19707, 19711, 19801, 19802, 19803, 19805, 19807, 19808, and 19810.
The spotted lantern fly can be detrimental to hosts like shrubs, trees and orchards. State officials estimate the pests to have cost $8 billion in agriculture business in Delaware.
Hofmann says the spotted lantern fly can also be pretty gross.
“It secretes a sugary honeydew and so that covers everything. It will form a sooty mold and it will almost rain down on you,” said Hofmann. “So for residents who want to be outside enjoying the wildlife, enjoying their backyard, this is a pest that will make you not want to be outside.”
Hofmann urges Delawareans who find spotted lantern fly eggs on their property to scrape them into a bag, crush the eggs within the bang and then thrown them out.