The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has confirmed that the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect, has been found in multiple counties in New York including Westchester! This insect is native to Asia and has also been detected in Pennsylvania (in 2014), New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana and New York. This plant hopper, attacks a wide variety of crops including grapes, hops, apples and forest products. While it does prefer Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as tree of heaven, it is not needed for the insect to complete its life cycle.
The insect is easy to identify with distinct markings. It will change hosts as it goes through its developmental stages. Nymphs feed on a wide range of plant species (willow, maple, poplar, sycamore as well as fruit trees like plum, cherry, and peach) while adults prefer to feed and lay eggs on tree of heaven (A. altissima).
If left unchecked, the spotted lanternfly can potentially wreak havoc on the New York’s grape, orchard and logging industries. It causes harm by sucking sap from plant stems and leaves. This can reduce photosynthesis, weaken the plant and eventually contribute to the plant’s death. While they can cause plant death, they do not bite or sting and feed exclusively on plants.
Invasive species can be transported to new locations in various ways. While the insect can walk, jump, or fly short distances, its long-distance spread is facilitated by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. Spotted lanternflies are easiest to spot at dusk or at night as they migrate up and down the trunk of the plant. If you find an insect that you suspect is the spotted lanternfly, please take a specimen or a photo and contact our Extension offices to have its identity confirmed.
New York State has recently implemented new actions to prevent the spread of the lanternfly within the state. As of October 2018, a quarantine will restrict movement of goods brought into New York State from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Another way to prevent the spread of this insect within New York State is to limit the spread of Tree of Heaven which is also an invasive species. Young seedlings may be pulled or dug up, taking care to remove all roots and fragments, preferably when soil is moist. Chemical controls work best during late winter/early spring and in summer. The cut stump method is useful in areas where the trees need to be removed from the site and will be cut as part of the process. The hack-and-squirt or injection method is also effective and minimizes sprouting and suckering when applied during the summer.
New York State Actions to Prevent the Spread of the Lanternfly: October 2018
New York Department of Environmental Conservation: Press Release (Sept 2018)
How to Spot Egg a Spotted Lanternfly Egg Mass Web Page
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Fact Sheet
USDA Fact Sheet: Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)
Last updated October 12, 2021