The State Department of Agriculture and Markets is asking residents of western New York to be on the lookout for the spotted lanternfly after a population was discovered in the Buffalo area.
The spotted lanternfly is a destructive pest that feeds on more than 70 plant species, including sky trees, and plants and crops essential to New York’s agricultural economy, such as grapevines, apple trees, and hops . The invasive was first observed in New York State on Staten Island in August 2020, and since then the population has been reported in all New York boroughs, Long Island, Port Jervis, Sloatsburg, Orangeburg , Ithaca, Binghamton, Middletown, Newburgh, Highland, and now in the Buffalo area.
“We are concerned about the large numbers of adult spotted lanternflies that have been found in Buffalo, particularly due to its proximity to the Concord wine region in western New York,” said Richard Ball, state agriculture commissioner. “The spotted lanternfly can have a devastating impact on vineyards, as we’ve seen in neighboring states, so we need everyone’s help to be on the lookout for this invasion and report it immediately.”
Inspectors from the Department’s Plant Industry Division responded to reports of a spotted lanternfly in a Buffalo residential area adjacent to an active railroad track. By September 9, more than 100 adults had been found. Agriculture and Markets staff will continue to survey the area over the next few days. Although the population is large, the area was surveyed in April 2022 and no egg masses were found, and no old egg masses were found during the current survey.
While investigations in the area are ongoing, the department is asking for the public’s help in slowing the spread of the spotted lanternfly in this area by immediately reporting any sightings at agriculture.ny.gov/reportSLF.
In addition to the declaration, residents are invited to:
¯ Take pictures of the insect, egg masses or infestation you see and, if possible, include something for size, such as a coin or ruler.
¯ If possible, pick up the insect. Place in a bag and freeze, or in a jar with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
¯ Write down the location (address and postal code, intersecting roads, landmarks or GPS coordinates).
The adult Mottled Lantern is easy to identify, as shown in the photos below. They are about an inch long and half an inch wide when at rest, with eye-catching wings. Adults are active from July to December and start laying eggs in September. Signs of a spotted lanternfly infestation can include:
¯ Sap oozing or oozing from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear damp and give off fermented odors.
¯ Inch-long egg masses that are brownish-grey, waxy, and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
¯ Massive accumulation of honeydew under the plants, sometimes with formation of black sooty mold.
Although these insects can jump and fly short distances, they are mainly spread by human activity. The Mottled Lantern can lay its eggs on a number of surfaces, such as vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture, and firewood. The adult spotted lanternfly can hitchhike in vehicles, on any outdoor item, or cling to clothing or hats, and be easily transported to and around New York City , so residents are advised to be vigilant.
The public is also encouraged to thoroughly inspect vehicles, luggage and equipment, and all outdoor items for egg masses and adult spotted lanternfly. If adults of the Mottled Lantern are found, residents should remove them and scrape out any egg masses.
IMPACTS OF SLF ON NEW YORK
Mottled lantern’s diet can stress plants, making them susceptible to disease and attack from other insects. The Spotted Lantern also excretes large amounts of “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds which interfere with plant photosynthesis, adversely affecting plant growth and fruit yield, 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, the Spotted Lantern could impact New York State by at least 300 million a year, mostly on the grape and wine industry, which ranks third in the country in production. The Spotted Lantern also has the potential to significantly impair quality of life and recreational activities due to the honeydew and insect swarms it attracts.
First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly has since been found in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio. Given the proximity of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey infestations, New York State is at high risk for infestation.
The State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in conjunction with many partner agencies such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Department of Transportation , the Thruway Authority and the United States Department of Agriculture, continues to respond to the presence of the Mottled Lantern in New York State.
For more information on the spotted lanternfly, visit agriculture.ny.gov/spottedlanternfly.