'We are bracing ourselves.' East End vineyards fear potential impact of spotted lanternfly infestation
Long Island vineyard and orchard owners are concerned about how the invasive spotted lanternfly could affect crops on the East End as the weather gets warmer.
Kareem Massoud is the winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue and Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead. He says while he hasn't seen any spotted lanternflies at his vineyards, he and other vintners are concerned as they have been sighted in Suffolk County.
“Among the vintners on Long Island, there's a sense of apprehension that the spotted lanternfly pest is going to finally become a problem this year for us,” Massoud says.
As the president of Long Island Wine Country, Massoud says there were sightings of the insect last year but no reported infestations.
According to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, the spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper native to China.
It was ﬁrst discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014 and spread to the tri-state area. The insect can crawl, jump or fly short distances, and the eggs hatch in the spring.
“Until now, it has not been a problem for us on Long Island, but we are bracing ourselves that this may be the year that we see our first infestations,” Massoud says.
The insect has the potential to greatly impact crops if it latches onto a vine.
“Just one wouldn't be a problem, but when there are hundreds of them, it can really hurt the vine,” Massoud says.
He says once he sees an infestation, instead of spraying insecticide, one thing they can do is use a vacuum to get rid of them.
Massoud says they're also looking to the public for help and urge anyone who sees the invasive species to kill it.
To report sightings of spotted lanternflies to the state, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.