If you see them, squash them.
That’s the message from the New York State Department of Agriculture, which is warning about an invasive insect known as the spotted lanternfly.
Native to Asia, the pink and gray dotted bugs were first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014 and have been spreading across the Northeast ever since.
Spotted lanternflies are not harmful to humans, but can damage crops and certain trees considered critical to agriculture.
State agriculture officials urged New Yorkers who encounter the bugs to quickly exterminate them.
“We need EVERY New Yorker to keep their eyes peeled for #SpottedLanternfly this summer!” reads a tweet from the Department of Agriculture.
“If you see #SLF in New York City, kill it immediately by stepping on it or crushing it.”
The department is also asking those living outside of New York City to snap a photo of the bug and collect a sample before placing it in a freezer bag or in a jar with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Residents are then asked to complete an online survey so that the department can continue gathering data on areas that are most affected.
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