New York City is being infested by a new insect. Although not directly harmful to humans the spotted lanternflies are large, colorful pests that could cause havoc to the area’s crops. Officials are asking locals to get rid of any they find.
These insects are native to China, Southeast Asia and were first discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. Their population has steadily increased since then. Spotted lanternflies have been found in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
The species is also highly visible, making it easy to identify. According to the New York Department of Agriculture, “They have red hind wings and black spots, a yellow abdomen with dark bands, and a black head.” Their grayish forewings are marked by black brick-like patterns on their tips and have black spots.
Pests have “piercing mouthparts”, which enable them to suck sap from many plant species. This leaves the plants weaker and more vulnerable. “Intense feeding only saps energy from plants and makes it difficult for some to thrive.”
New York City officials recommend that residents take action to eradicate the pests.
“Harming the wildlife of our city is against the law, but we want to stop the spread of this pest species. We are making a one-time request: If you see a spotted lamplin fly, please remove it from your yard.” stated the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Residents in neighboring New Jersey have received similar advice. “If you spot a spotted lampanfly, please help us Stomp It Out!” The website of the Department of Agriculture in New Jersey provides more information.
Government agencies advise people to take photos of the bug and its location, then report it to them immediately. In New York, the Department of Agriculture can receive reports on sightings of spotted lanternflys.
According to Susan Ndiaye, a community horticulture educator, residents are advised to eliminate the egg masses. Susan spoke to the Times Union. Anyone who comes across an egg mass should “scrape it off” any surface on which they are found and “destroy them.”
The spotted lanternfly’s wide-ranging potential hosts makes it particularly alarming. This means that they can survive on the sap of many important plants, according to the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. The spotted lanternfly’s greatest threat to agriculture is its potential for contaminating grapes, hops and blueberries as well as stone fruits.
Spotted lanternflies aren’t able to fly very far but they can spread through “human activity” like planthoppers.
“They lay their eggs in vehicles, firewood and outdoor furniture. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation stated that the insects can be accidentally transported to new areas and spread to other areas.