Hudson Valley battles spotted lanternfly infestation
The Department of Agriculture and Markets is stepping up its battle on the spotted lanternfly and is asking people to kill the invasive insects if they are found.
MORE: Have you seen a spotted lanternfly? Here’s what you need to know about the risk the invasive pest poses to our agriculture.
The pests are invasive and destructive, especially to the agriculture industry. The insects leave damage like honeydew and sooty mold.
“This reduces photosynthesis and can actually predispose the plants to eat from other insects or from being more susceptible to other plant diseases,” says Christopher Logue, director of the Division of Plant Industry.
As the summer comes to an end and fall approaches, most spotted lanternflies are in their mature state, preparing to lay eggs. It is important to check vehicles and personal items for the insects before going on a road trip to guarantee they are not along for the ride.
“You also want to look at any sort of conveyances or goods that have been idle,” says Logue.
If you spot these insects, stomp on them to kill them.
“Definitely kill them. As many as you see,” advises Director of Science and Stewardship Danielle Begley-Miller.
Around July 4, officials from the Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers realized the spotted lanternfly had found its way into the 40-acre nature park. That wasn't a surprise, because a plant known as tree of heaven is a host to these creatures and that plant can be found all over the park. Staff members look every day for the insects, pull them off plants and stomp them out. "It feels weird to be stomping on nature, but we really need to try and mitigate this problem," says Sara Cavanaugh, Lenoir Preserve curator.
Lanternflies may have wings, but they don't actually fly very well so they often hitch a ride attached to a vehicle. Department of Agriculture officials are asking you to check your cars for the bugs or egg masses that look like big muddy spots before traveling. "We're seeing a pretty big population at this park. I've heard of a couple of spottings over at Untermyer, and Muscoot has recently seen some too. So, they are spreading north," says Cavanaugh.
Officials from New York's Department of Agriculture and Markets say the lanternfly poses a serious economic threat. They feed on more than 70 plant species, but more importantly, they love fruit. "Our grapes, our apples, our hops, all of those which are a huge economy booster for New York state, those are in danger so that's why we want people to be aware of this insect and try and kill them when they can," explains Cavanaugh.