Written by Dan Corbett, President of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is native to China, was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014, and has multiplied voraciously and caused much damage to agriculture and forests. This invasive insect feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, with tree-of-heaven being one of the preferred hosts. Spotted lanternflies can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. Continued spread of this pest will seriously impact the grape, orchard, and logging industries.
Spotted Lanternfly lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. All other life stages of this insect, from nymphs to adults can fly, hop, or drop right into or onto vehicles – meaning that vehicles and equipment can easily and quickly help it spread. Therefore, a quarantine over an area found to harbor the Spotted Lanternfly means that any material or object that can spread the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent that spread. Businesses, truckers, and common carriers moving items from a spotted lanternfly quarantine area must complete a Spotted Lanternfly training and obtain a permit. We should all take precautions.Spotted Lanternfly is continuing to spread in New York State. The downstate areas have seen heavy populations in the last couple years, and SLF has continued to spread in our region. Additional populations have been found this year in Tompkins County, in Syracuse, and in Buffalo. It is likely that populations will continue to emerge in and around large metro areas like Binghamton, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Rochester. SLF does not fly long distances, but it is a hitchhiker. Starting in the fall, SLF seek out outdoor surfaces and lay mud-like egg masses on tree bark, outdoor gear (such as lawnmowers, bikes, and grills), methods of transport, and more. Spotted lanternfly egg masses are about an inch long and resemble a smear of mud. If found in an area known to have an SLF population, residents should crush them and scrape them off. Travelers passing through SLF quarantine areas should thoroughly check their vehicles, trailers, and even the clothes they are wearing to avoid accidently moving the spotted lanternfly from a quarantine area to somewhere new.
Seneca Lake Pure Waters volunteers are working with the Finger Lakes Institute PRISM program to monitor our region for any emerging populations. We will continue to monitor our traps throughout September, October, and into the first frosts of November. The fall is the most important time of year to be monitoring traps, as adults are highly active. The adult stage of SLF is where transport and population spread are most likely to occur. This is also the time of year where adults are mating. Keep an eye out for SLF egg masses.
If you find this pest outside of a spotted lanternfly quarantine area, please take a picture of it and note the location to report it to your State Department of Agriculture before killing it. When preparing for the winter holidays, check outdoor items for spotted lanternfly egg masses, including those items you may bring indoors. Scrape any egg masses into a plastic zippered bag filled with hand sanitizer, then zip the bag shut and dispose of it properly.
What you can do:
- Learn how to identify SLF.
- Inspect outdoor items such as firewood, vehicles, and furniture for egg masses.
- · Inspect your trees and plants for signs of this pest, particularly at dusk and at night when the insects tend to gather in large groups on the trunks or stems of plants.
- If you visit other states with SLF, be sure to check all equipment and gear before leaving. Scrape off any egg masses.
- Destroy egg masses by scraping them into a bucket of hot, soapy water or a baggie/jar of hand sanitizer
- Report any sightings if you find spotted lanternflies outside of quarantine areas- Take pictures of the insect, egg masses and/or infestation signs as described above (include something for scale such as a coin or ruler) and email to email@example.com.