The New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) and Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (Parks) today announced an innovative effort to combat the spread of Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) in New York State. A new online interface will allow volunteer members of the public to assist in surveying for SLF and tracking associated data. The program encourages broader surveying for SLF and increased public awareness of this invasive pest, following confirmed finds of SLF in New York State this past fall.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “This first-of-its-kind effort is a great next step in New York’s work to combat Spotted Lanternfly. The public has been key to our efforts in combating the spread of this invasive species for years. By expanding this call to action, we can continue to share knowledge and encourage awareness of SLF across New York, while also increasing the amount of ground we are covering. I thank our volunteers for their help and encourage New Yorkers to get trained and start surveying.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “One proven way to combat the spread of invasive pests is to encourage New Yorkers to join the fight. This groundbreaking new initiative, implemented by DEC with our state agency partners, will greatly advance our efforts to identify Spotted Lanternfly statewide and take action to prevent its spread. I encourage the public to support these efforts and get involved as this invasive pest impacts New York’s forests, as well as our agricultural and tourism industries.”
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Spotted Lanternfly poses a significant threat to the natural community and quality of outdoor recreation in New York State Parks. I encourage park visitors to become familiar with how they can identify and report this destructive pest, so they can help slow its spread.”
The new initiative, which launched this week, invites volunteers to sign up to survey a specific area, or grid, of land on iMapInvasives. This online, GIS-based data management system is used to assist citizen scientists and natural resource professionals to protect against the threat of invasive species. Volunteers will also enter data from their survey work into iMapInvasives.
The State will hold a series of training webinars to educate volunteers on how to identify SLF and tree-of-heaven, a plant that SLF commonly feeds on. Each training webinar will focus on a different life stage of SLF based on the time of year that stage would be most likely found during survey. This winter, the training will focus on identifying SLF egg masses. The training will also cover how to use iMapInvasives, how to sign up for a grid and track data, and details about land access. The first webinar will be held on February 23 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. More information about the program, including upcoming webinars, can be found at https://www.nyimapinvasives.org/slf.
About SLF in New York State
First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, SLF has since been found in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, and New York. It was first confirmed in New York State on Staten Island in August 2020. Adult SLF and egg masses have since been found in Port Jervis, Sloatsburg, Orangeburg, and Ithaca. The destructive insect feeds on more than 70 plant species, including tree-of-heaven, and plants and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as grapevines, hops, apple trees, and maple trees.
Since 2017, AGM, working with its partners at DEC, Parks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, has taken an aggressive approach to keeping SLF from establishing in New York State, conducting surveys of high-risk areas across the State; implementing an external quarantine that restricts the movement of goods brought into New York from quarantined areas, inspecting nursery stock, stone shipments, and commercial transports from those quarantine areas; and launching a comprehensive education and outreach campaign to enlist the public’s help in reporting SLF.
While these insects can jump and fly short distances, they spread primarily through human activity. SLF can lay their eggs on any number of surfaces, such as vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture, and firewood. Adult SLF can hitch rides in vehicles, on any outdoor item, or cling to clothing or hats, and be easily transported into and throughout New York.
In addition to volunteering for this new surveying effort, the public is encouraged to thoroughly inspect vehicles, luggage, and gear, and all outdoor items for egg masses and adult SLF before leaving areas with SLF, particularly in the counties of states in the quarantine area—Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia. If SLF adults are found, residents should remove them and scrape off all egg masses.
Residents can also help by allowing State surveyors access to properties where SLF may be present. Surveyors will be uniformed and will always provide identification.
Adult SLF are active from July to December. They are approximately one inch long and half an inch wide at rest, with eye-catching wings. Adults begin laying eggs in September, and egg masses can be found throughout the winter. Signs of an SLF infestation may include:
- Sap oozing or weeping from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear wet and give off fermented odors.
- One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy, and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
- Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold developing.
For more information about Spotted Lanternfly, visit agriculture.ny.gov/SLF.