What is the problem with the spotted lanternfly?

July 5, 2022

The spotted lanternfly is a highly invasive species. They are a dangerous and destructive insect to our local farming businesses and hardwood trees such as maple, fruit trees (apples), and hops.

What is the spotted lanternfly?

According to the USDA, The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to China and was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014. Spotted lanternfly feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, with tree-of-heaven being one of the preferred hosts. Spotted lanternflies are invasive and can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. If allowed to spread in the United States, this pest could seriously impact the country’s grape, orchard, and logging industries.

The spotted lanternfly is a threat to agriculture and agribusiness in New York. Often mistaken as a stink bug when their wings are closed, they can be found in NYS orchards, logging, and other farm crops. The USDA states, “Adults are about an inch long by a half-inch wide, with large, visually striking wings. Forewings are light brown with black spots in front and a speckled band at the rear. Hind wings are scarlet with black spots in front and white and black bars at the rear. The abdomen is yellow with black bars.”

Further described by pestworld.org, the author explains:

Spotted lanternflies get their name from the distinguishable black spots on their front wings as adults. Adult SLF has spotted forewings that cover brightly- colored hind wings. Spotted lanternfly nymphs are usually 1/8 to 1/2 inch in size with white-spotted, black bodies changing to bright red coloration in older nymphs. Adults are larger than nymphs, around 1 inch in length and an inch and a half wide when wings are spread. The adults are typically easier to find because of their size, coloration, and increased mobility.

Often referred to as a fly but looking like a moth, these invasive pests are Hemiptera and are related to walking stick bugs. SLFs have piercing appendages in their mouths that drain sap and moisture from plants and trees. They have few natural enemies.

Are spotted lanternflies in New York?

spotted lanternfly removal near me

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture, Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) has been found in New York State on Staten Island, Port Jervis, Sloatsburg, Orangeburg, and Ithaca. SLF has the potential to damage multiple crops in New York. SLF is a pest of apples, grapes, hops, maple, walnut, and others. New York is estimated to produce more than 30 million bushels of apples each year, while grapes in New York are valued at an annual harvest of $52.8 million. Additionally, the expanding hops, maple, and timber industries would be negatively impacted by the spread of SLF.

What to do if you see a spotted lanternfly in New York?

The New York State Department of Agriculture recommends that if you see a Spotted Lanternfly in New York City, kill it immediately by stepping on it or crushing it. People living in New York City do not need to report Spotted Lanternfly sightings to the Department or collect samples at this time.

If you live outside New York City, you can help the Department by reporting SLF immediately after it is found. Follow these steps:

  • Take a photo
  • Collect a sample and place it in a freezer or in a jar with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
  • Contact the SLF responders.

After you have reported SLF in your area and collected a sample, you should kill any additional SLF you see by stepping on it or crushing it.

Close to home: Spotted Lanternfly Infestation in Shrewsbury, MA.

Below is an excerpt from an article online on patch.com. The report highlights the issues with the spotted lanternfly. The article was written on July 5, 20222, at 8:52 AM ET.

SHREWSBURY, MA — The spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that may pose a significant risk to local plants, has established an infestation in Shrewsbury. This is the second established infestation in the state, according to the state Department of Agricultural Resources. The state confirmed the first established infestation in Fitchburg in September.

The invasive pests sometimes find their way into homes and gardens through plants and shrubs sold at local nurseries, according to the Westborough Conservation Commission. The bugs especially like to infest tree species including walnut and tree of heaven, and grape vines, state officials have said.  The lanternfly lays eggs in the spring on the sides of trees, and often look like tree bark. Lanternfly nymphs usually hatch by the end of June.

Spotted lantern flies, originally found across Asia, have been moving into the U.S. in recent years, and devastating native plants, trees and crops in the process. In Pennsylvania, officials estimate the pest could cost the agriculture industry some $325 million.

Still unsure if you have seen a spotted lanternfly?

Anyone who thinks they may have found a spotted lanternfly or an egg mass should immediately contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by emailing: spottedlanternfly@dec.ny.gov. If you find any spotted lanternflies, please get in touch with us: For up-to-date information on the spotted lanternfly, go to https://nysipm.cornell.edu/environment/invasive-species-exotic-pests/spotted-lanternfly/.

Contact us for a free inspection. It is essential for you and our environment to be sure if these invasive insects have arrived in the capital region counties.

Resources: Cornell Cooperative Extension (Sullivan County); https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/38649/20190511/spotted-lanternfly-spotted-in-8-ny-countieshttps://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/occasional-invaders/spotted-lanternfly/

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