The good news is that there hasn’t yet been a documented spotted lanternfly infestation in New York.
That’s wonderful because the spotted lanternfly can damage many kinds of plants. In addition, it can secrete so much messy “honeydew” that people can’t go outside without getting honeydew on their hair and clothes. If this insect becomes established in New York, it could impact our forests, agriculture and tourism.
Your help is needed to keep this invasive and destructive insect out of our area, according to the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets (DAM).
In the fall, spotted lanternfly lay their eggs on any flat surface such as vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture, stone or other items that can be inadvertently transported to new areas.
Inspect outdoor items such as vehicles, outdoor furniture and camping equipment for egg masses or insects, and report any sightings by sending photos and location information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone that visits locations of spotted lanternfly quarantines in other states should look for and remove insects and egg masses on items before leaving those areas. Get more information here.
Freezing temperatures will kill off adult spotted lanternflies, but the egg masses can survive the winter.
Background on spotted lanternfly
The spotted lanternfly is a destructive pest that feeds on the sap of more than 70 plant species including tree-of-heaven, maples, apple trees, grapevine and hops. In infested areas, feeding by sometimes thousands of spotted lanternflies can stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects.
Spotted lanternflies excrete large amounts of sticky “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants. The accumulation of honeydew under infestations, along with the swarms of insects it attracts, can also significantly hinder outdoor activities.
While these insects can jump and fly short distances, these pests spread primarily through human activity. They lay their eggs starting in the fall on surfaces including vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture and campers, and can hitch rides to new areas when these objects are moved. Egg masses are one-inch-long and are often smooth and brownish-gray with a shiny, waxy coating when first laid. Over time, egg masses become brown and scaly. See an image here.
The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, and has since been found in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Given the proximity of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey infestations, there is a high risk of the spotted lanternfly becoming established in New York.
DEC and DAM have not confirmed any infestations to date, but several individual adult spotted lanternflies have been found in counties across New York including Erie, Monroe, Ontario, Chemung, Delaware, Albany, Yates, Westchester, Suffolk, New York, Kings, Ulster, Nassau, Sullivan and Orange.
To slow the spread of the spotted lanternfly, DAM issued an “external” quarantine that restricts the movement of goods brought into New York from quarantined areas in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The external quarantine requires regulated articles, such as packing materials, landscaping and construction equipment, and nursery stock — including Christmas trees — to have certificates of inspection issued from the impacted states. Inspections are conducted across New York by DAM and its partners to check for the spotted lanternfly and compliance with the regulations.