Watch for spotted lanternfly in WNY; one found in West Seneca

spotted lanternfly nymphs courtesy Brian Eshenaur
If there are spotted lanternflies (SLF) in Western New York now, they will be small black-and-white spotted nymphs. These nymphs are on their favorite host plant, the Tree of Heaven (Alianthus altissima). Photo courtesy Brian Eshenaur

by Connie Oswald Stofko

The bad news is that a spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive insect, was reported last week in West Seneca.

The good news is that the specimen that was found was dead.

More good news is that Western New York probably doesn’t have an established spotted lanternfly population yet. There are two things that point to that conclusion.

First, the specimen that was found was an adult, and it’s too early in the year to find an adult here, said Brian Eshenaur, Senior Extension Associate with Cornell University and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. If there was a population of SLF here, they would still be at the earlier nymph stage.

Second, the specimen wasn’t in good condition; it was tattered. It may have arrived last fall with construction supplies, Eshenaur said. It was found in a backyard swimming pool on a neighboring property.

adult spotted lanternflies
By the end of July, if there are spotted lanternflies in Western New York, the insects will be adults one inch long. Photo courtesy Brian Eshenaur

Watch for spotted lanternflies in WNY

Right now, if SLF are present, they will be small black and white spotted nymphs. 

By the end of this month, the adults would appear, Eshenaur said. 

“The adults can fly and, at about an inch in length with the black spots on their back, they are very noticeable,” he said.  

It is very likely the first place they would be noticed in WNY is on their favorite host plant, the tree of heaven (Alianthus altissima).

If you think you see a spotted lanternfly, take a photo and report it. Instructions on how to make the report are on the righthand sidebar on this page.

Why we don’t want SLF in WNY

Any invasive species can mess up our ecosystem, and spotted lanternflies are a nuisance.

SLF has the potential to damage multiple agricultural crops in New York, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. SLF is a pest of apples, grapes, hops, maple, walnut and other plants. Backyard grape growers may need to treat for spotted lanternflies if they become established here in coming years, Eshenaur added.

Adults and nymphs feed on the sap of more than 70 plant species. While the feeding itself may not damage the plants, the large number of SLFs (sometimes thousands) feeding at once can stress the plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

With large infestations, the SLFs can secrete so much sticky honeydew that people can’t go outside without getting the mess on their hair and clothes, according to the DEC.

However, spotted lanternflies do not bite or sting. 

Learn more about spotted lanternflies here.

4 Comments on “Watch for spotted lanternfly in WNY; one found in West Seneca

  1. I volunteered to check traps for Spotted Lantern Fly through NYS Prism. I grow grapes in my garden so I will be on the lookout for them in my yard too.

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