A colorful insect that has environmentalists seeing red because of the harmful effects it has on agriculture was found at a tree nursery in Deer Park, state officials said Friday.
One live and several dead spotted lanternflies, tree- and crop-damaging invasive insects that are native to Asia and were first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014, were found at the nursery, officials said in a statement.
Personnel with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets said the adult insects were in a shipment originating from an area that is under quarantine in Pennsylvania.
New York officials with DEC and DAM said they have begun extensive surveys throughout the area and “found no established populations or additional insects.” Authorities in Pennsylvania have been notified, officials said.
“DEC is working proactively with our partners at the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to do everything we can to keep spotted lanternfly out of New York State and to prevent infestations,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “In addition to our ongoing education, outreach, and survey efforts across the state, we are closely tracking spotted lanternfly, a destructive invasive pest that has the potential to severely impact our state's agricultural and tourism industries.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said the public has been critical in the fight to keep the insect out of New York.
“The public has been invaluable as a partner in finding out where this bug is and we encourage New Yorkers to continue to report any suspected findings," he said.
The spotted lanternfly has two sets of wings and can walk, jump or fly. It feeds on plant sap, which can stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. The lanternfly also excretes large amounts of sticky "honeydew," which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, hurting the growth and fruit yield of plants, officials said.
The insect can affect grapes, hops, almonds, apples, cherries and several varieties of trees including oak, pine, poplar and sycamore.
Adult spotted lanternflies can be about 1-inch long and a half-inch wide. The insect’s wings are speckled, dotted and striped in red, yellow, white, black and brown. The insects lay eggs on many surfaces, from firewood to lawn mowers, experts said.
Sightings of the insects or their egg masses can be reported by sending photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.