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Lanternfly Sightings Closer To Region

The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species harmful to over 70 plant species. Populations have been established in various parts of New York. Submitted Photo.

It appears the Spotted Lanternfly is moving closer to our region, which has the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets on alert.

The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive plant-hopping species that can be extremely harmful to plant based agricultural industries such as the grape industry. It has been found to eat over 70 different plant species including apples, grapes and hops. The Spotted Lanternfly was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, and the first sighting in New York State was in Staten Island in 2020.

During the meeting, state Department of Agriculture and Markets Director For Plant Industry, Chris Logue discussed the state’s current efforts to combat the Spotted Lanternfly. He said the main concerns are the type of damage done to the plants by the Spotted Lanternfly and its ability to move around quickly.

“It feeds on over 70 different plant species, specifically on their sap,” Logue said. “This is important because of the type of damage this does. They create honeydew and sooty mold which can prohibit photosynthesis. These are our main two concerns.”

The Spotted Lanternfly has been found in a number of locations in New York with established populations in the New York City area, along with the Hudson Valley, Binghamton and Syracuse areas. The population in Syracuse at the moment is small.

“It’s pretty good at getting around,” Logue said. “In the adult stage it can hitchhike on vehicles and other forms of transportation.”

Besides grapes, apples and hops, Spotted Lanternfly also provides a risk to the maple industry. The total economic impact created from this insect exceeds $70 billion.

The state Department of Agriculture has been working with a number of different agencies since 2017 to help monitor the insects along with trapping and spotting them. There have also been surveys of higher risk areas and inspections of some nurseries. It remains unclear how exactly invasive species such as the Spotted Lanternfly enter the country.

Additionally Logue said that they are working with the trucking industry to raise awareness of the potential of the Lanternfly to travel on their trucks. He also thanked Pennsylvania for their work on keeping it contained, along with those who have reported the lanternfly already.

“There is an established presence in New York City,” Logue said. “We would ask for reports from that area to minimize slightly, so we can focus more on reports coming in from Upstate. Upstate, we would urge you to report and catch one when you see it.”

Logue continued by saying for people in infested areas, vehicles should be inspected and during the fall all idle vehicles such as RVs should be checked for egg masses. The number of reports of Spotted Lanternfly sightings are increasing and Logue said he expects this to continue.

In the local area the closest report of a Spotted Lanternfly was in the Buffalo area earlier this summer. Logue said he believes this is an isolated incident caused by one hitchhiking there, and that there is no population being established there.

He added that the Department of Agriculture has been concerned about the Spotted Lanternfly since it was first reported in Pennsylvania but there have been exterior quarantines put in place in some areas for a few years, and interior quarantines are in the draft phases.

“We are working on a specific strategic plan once we see what is working and what is not working,” Logue said.

Logue added that at the beginning when the Spotted Lanternfly was first located in Pennsylvania there was not a lot of research that existed. Not a lot exists even now, but Logue said they are making progress.

Some pesticides are able to help fight off the Spotted Lanternfly because it is what Logue referred to as a “fairly delicate insect”. For specific pesticide information he urged people to reach out to Cornell Cooperative Extension because of regional differences.

There are also research efforts in place by scientists to work to get a more direct survey of where populations are being established. Seasonal and geographical differences are expected, and it is also expected that the Spotted Lanternfly would be less likely to establish populations in the colder areas of the state.

Along similar lines, Logue said that another plant the Spotted Lanternfly feeds on is the Tree of Heaven and these trees do not grow in colder areas. Logue also said that large-scale Tree of Heaven removals are not advised because of the damage it might do and the potential risk of sending the Spotted Lanternfly to a different area.

“It is something to consider, but the Tree of Heaven is also known to sprout from the stump,” Logue said.

Impacts on the maple industry and the reduction of populations in colder areas still remains to be seen.

For those looking to get rid of Spotted Lanternflies on their own property Logue urged them to reach out to Cornell Cooperative Extension again for the best control options available but added that egg scraping and killing the adults is a good option, especially if the adults are killed before egg laying season. He also urged people to work with their neighbors, as it is likely that they would also be affected.

The immature stage of the Spotted Lanternfly occurs from June to early August, and the adult stage follows that with mating season beginning in September. Egg laying season is in the fall months. Eggs can sometimes be hard to identify because they can sometimes change appearance as they are weathered.

There have been no reports of the Spotted Lanternfly feeding on things such as cannabis, but larger populations of the Spotted Lanternfly are more likely to be the ones to cause damage.

Everyone is urged that if they see a Spotted Lanternfly to kill it, with a benefit of doing this before egg laying season because of the potential to help decrease the population in the area.

“It can take a couple of years to see the damage after the first introduction of the Spotted Lanternfly,” Logue said. “In apple orchards we are more concerned with the honeydew and sooty mold. All grape producers should be aware.”

Since the Spotted Lanternfly is a plant eater there is no evidence of it hurting people or animals or of people being bitten. There may still be an issue if the Spotted Lanternfly is accidentally eaten.

Neighboring states with established populations include New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and New Hampshire. Other states such as Vermont have no reports of established populations at this point in time.

There is a low amount of reports in Central New York. Logue emphasized that reporting any sightings of Spotted Lanternfly to the Department of Agriculture is extremely important.

Spotted Lanternfly sightings can be reported at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a08d60f6522043f5bd04229e00acdd63.

More information on the Spotted Lanternfly can be found by visiting https://agriculture.ny.gov/spottedlanternfly.

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