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Ag Dept. Asking Residents To Report Live Spotted Lanternfly

A spotted lanternfly is pictured. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets is asking the public to stay vigilant and report live spotted lanternfly or overwintering egg masses following additional confirmed finds of the invasive species in areas of the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier.

Spotted lanternflies, an invasive pest from Asia, were first confirmed in the state on Staten Island in August. Adult spotted lanternflies and egg masses have since been found in Port Jervis, Sloatsburg, Orangeburg and Ithaca. The destructive insect feeds on more than 70 plant species, including tree-of-heaven, and plants and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as maple trees, apple trees, grapevine, and hops.

“Spotted lanternfly can be devastating to New York agriculture, including some of our leading crops, such as apples and grapes, which is why we have been aggressively working to prevent this pest’s establishment in New York,” said Richard Ball, state agriculture commissioner. “While we have additional confirmations in areas of the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley, thanks to the public’s assistance, we have been able to begin immediate survey work and targeted management plans. We ask that, despite the approaching cold weather and winter months, the public continue to provide their assistance and watchful eyes and report any egg masses.”

Freezing temperatures are expected to kill off adult spotted lanternfly, however egg masses are still a concern during the winter months. In the fall, spotted lanternflies will lay their eggs on any flat surface such as vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture, stone, or other items, which can be inadvertently transported to new areas. If this insect becomes established in New York, it could impact New York’s forests and agricultural and tourism industries.

Spotted lanternfly feedings stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. Spotted lanternfly also excretes large amounts of sticky “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants, and impacting forest health. Spotted lanternfly also has the potential to significantly hinder New Yorkers’ quality of life and recreational activities due to the honeydew and the swarms of insects it attracts.

First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly has since been found in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia. Given the proximity to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey infestations, New York State is at high risk for infestation.

Since 2017, AGM, working with its partners at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the state Integrated Pest Management Program, has taken an aggressive approach to keeping spotted lanternfly from establishing in New York state, conducting surveys of high-risk areas across the State; implementing an external quarantine that restricts the movement of goods brought into New York from quarantined areas, inspecting nursery stock, stone shipments, and commercial transports from those quarantine areas; and launching a comprehensive education and outreach campaign to enlist the public’s help in reporting spotted lanternfly.

While these insects can jump and fly short distances, they spread primarily through human activity. Spotted lanternfly can lay their eggs on any number of surfaces, such as vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture, and firewood. Adult spotted lanternfly can hitch rides in vehicles, on any outdoor item, or cling to clothing or hats, and be easily transported into and throughout New York.

The public is encouraged to thoroughly inspect vehicles, luggage, and gear, and all outdoor items for egg masses and adult sptoted lanternfly before leaving areas with spotted lanternflies, particularly in the counties of states in the quarantine area-Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia. If spotted lanternfly adults are found, residents should remove them and scrape off all egg masses.

Residents can also help by allowing surveyors access to properties where spotted lanternfly may be present. Surveyors will be uniformed and will always provide identification.

Adult spotted lanternfly are active from July to December. They are one inch long and half an inch wide at rest, with eye-catching wings. Adults begin laying eggs in September. Signs of an spotted lanternfly infestation may include:

¯ Sap oozing or weeping from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear wet and give off fermented odors.

¯ One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy, and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.

¯ Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold developing.

“DEC is actively supporting the Department of Agriculture and Markets in their work to track the invasive pest Spotted Lanternfly as part of New York State’s ongoing efforts to prevent its establishment and spread in the state,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “This pest has the potential to severely impact our state’s agricultural and tourism industries and poses a risk to our forests and ecosystem health. I encourage all New Yorkers to be vigilant in reporting possible sightings of spotted lanternfly to support our efforts to prevent further spread of this destructive invasive species.”

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