Representatives from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM), Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Cornell University’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program today visited Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx to provide an update on Spotted Lanternfly (SLF). Most recently, New York State has been hearing concerns from New York City residents regarding SLF control. State officials and Cornell experts shared tips with residents on how to combat SLF on their properties, as well as information on the SLF’s life cycle and what to expect for the rest of this summer and through the fall and winter seasons.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets State Director of Plant Industry Chris Logue said, “Here in New York City, with SLF at its peak, we know and understand that our residents are frustrated with their presence in public areas and on their properties. The public has been a tremendous resource for us regarding SLF and we thank them for that. Our efforts at the Department need to focus first on protecting our agricultural areas from SLF because if not contained, SLF could have a negative economic impact to NYS of at least $300 million annually, mainly to the grape and wine industry. However, we want to ensure that New York City residents know what to expect in the months ahead and have a way to manage this invasive species.”
Justin Perry, DEC Bureau Chief of Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health & Co-Chair of the Invasive Species Council said, “DEC continues to work closely with the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and other federal, State, and regional partners to search for and address Spotted Lanternfly. We are working diligently to inform and educate the public and stakeholders and joining in the efforts for innovative research to help address the impact of this pest and its threat to New York State’s natural resources.”
Brian Eshenaur, Senior Extension Associate, NYS Integrated Pest Management at Cornell University, said, “Although Spotted Lanternflies can be a nuisance they don’t bite or sting—they are not harmful to people or animals—and our research has shown that if one ends up indoors it will only survive for about 48 hours. Residents who are looking for help managing SLF, can visit the IPM website for reputable resources for approved control methods.”
SLF is a destructive pest that feeds on more than 100 plant species, including tree-of-heaven, and plants and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as grapevine, apple trees, and hops. The invasive was first observed in New York State on Staten Island in August 2020, and since has been reported in all New York City boroughs, Long Island, and several areas in Upstate New York.
With SLF currently in its adult stage, residents will likely see the invasive species through late November, or the first hard frost. However, SLF will begin laying its eggs in September, so AGM, DEC, and IPM are stressing:
- While residents of NYC do NOT need to report sightings of SLF, they should continue to kill SLF to control the population.
- SLF is not harmful to you, your pets, or forest or urban trees.
- The public is encouraged to thoroughly inspect vehicles, luggage and gear, and all outdoor items for SLF. If SLF adults are found, residents should destroy them.
- Residents can use at-home control methods to help manage SLF on their properties. Examples include:
- Traps: Sticky band traps encircling the trunk can be effective, but they must be accompanied by a barrier, such as a wire mesh or screen, to prevent the capture of beneficial insects and animals, such as birds. Photos of this are below:
- Circle traps: Circle traps consist of screening that encircles the trunk of a tree, which funnels climbing spotted lanternflies into a container at the top from which they cannot escape. Watch a video on how to build a circle trap here: https://extension.psu.edu/how-to-build-a-spotted-lanternfly-circle-trap. Photos of this are below.
- Insecticides: Since SLF rarely cause damage to landscape trees, treatment is not necessary for the health of the tree; but if they become a nuisance, insecticides can be used. Residents may choose to hire a certified applicator who is equipped to make a tree injection, bark sprays, or soil drenches.
- Vacuum removal: Hand-held, backpack style rechargeables and even big shop vacuums all can be useful in managing SLF.
- Once the SLF lays its eggs, residents are being asked to scrape off egg masses and dispose of them.
For more information and photos on these control methods, including egg scraping, please visit the Cornell IPM website at: https://cals.cornell.edu/new-york-state-integrated-pest-management/outreach-education/whats-bugging-you/spotted-lanternfly/spotted-lanternfly-management#biocontrol
Adult SLF are easy to identify, as seen in the photos and video found here. They are approximately one inch long and half an inch wide at rest, with eye-catching wings. Adults are active from July to December and begin laying eggs in September. Signs of an SLF 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.
While these insects can jump and fly short distances, they spread primarily through human activity. SLF can lay their eggs on any number of surfaces, such as vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture, and firewood. Adult SLF can hitch rides in vehicles, on any outdoor item, or cling to clothing or hats, and be easily transported into and throughout New York, so residents are asked to be vigilant.
SLF Impacts to New York Agriculture
SLF feeding can stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. SLF 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, negatively impacting agriculture and forest health.
The estimated total economic impact of invasive insects in the United States exceeds $70 billion per year, and if not contained, SLF could have an impact to New York State of at least $300 million annually, mainly to the grape and wine industry, which ranks third in the country in production. SLF also has the potential to significantly hinder quality of life and recreational activities due to the honeydew and the swarms of insects it attracts.
About SLF and Efforts to Combat the Invasive Species
First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, SLF has since been found in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio. Given the proximity to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey infestations, New York State is at high risk for infestation.
AGM, working with many partner agencies such as the New York State DEC, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, and the United States Department of Agriculture, continue to respond to the presence of SLF in New York State. Actions taken include:
- Conducting surveys of high-risk areas across the state;
- Responding to public reports of SLF;
- Enforcing the New York State quarantine on goods from other states that have established SLF populations;
- Inspecting nursery stock, stone shipments, and commercial shipments from quarantine areas;
- Implementing a comprehensive education and outreach campaign to educate the public and the transportation industries to limit the transport of SLF to uninfested areas; and
- Implementing trapping, treatment, and egg scraping efforts around the state.
In addition, Cornell University is conducting extensive research into long-term control and eradication solutions.
For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit https://agriculture.ny.gov/spottedlanternfly and https://cals.cornell.edu/new-york-state-integrated-pest-management/outreach-education/whats-bugging-you/spotted-lanternfly