It feels as if NYers can’t seem to escape the wrath of flying insects–do murder hornets and brooding swarms of cicadas ring a bell? And alas, we now have to be on the lookout for another winged bug flying our way.
Spotted Lanternflies, though not nearly as daunting sounding as the former pests (and arguably much nicer to look at), have taken over NYC, and while they may seem like they’re simply minding their business, it’s super important to immediately kill them if one flies your way.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Spotted Lanternfly:
Where did they come from?
Native to China, The Spotted Lanternfly first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014, and by 2020 had made their way to Staten Island. Now, they’re being spotted over all five boroughs.
What do they look like?
Spotted Lanternfly adults are very colorful, with bright red hind wings covered with black spots and grayish/brown forewings with black spots. As babies these insects are wingless and black with white spots before turning red.
Their egg masses are smooth and brownish/gray, and have a shiny, waxy coat when first laid. At times they can look almost like dried brown chewing gum.
Why are they so detrimental?
Spotted Lanternflies feed on a wide range of fruit and woody trees, and are both invasive and detrimental to our ecosystem and agriculture. Their presence could lead to crop loss and increased management costs, and since their eggs are laid on any hard, smooth surface, egg masses spread easily, and often unknowingly.
When these insects feed on plants they cause stress to them, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects.
How do you kill them?
Though not many of us are too keen on squishing bugs, if you see a Spotted Lanternfly in NYC, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is stressing that it’s important to kill it immediately by stepping on it or crushing it.
Though the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets suggests catching the bug if possible to pass along a photo and information of where it was found, it is not at this time required for people living in NYC to do so. (However, if you’d like to report a sighting anyway, you can do so to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets here).