Watch Out for Spotted Lanternflies

Spotted Lanternfly
Spotted Lanternfly (Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

The spotted lanternfly is one beautiful bug. With its wings outspread, an adult resembles an abstract painting, sporting geometric splotches of red, yellow, black and white. Unfortunately, it’s also a very destructive bug — which has led to an all-out effort to prevent it from infesting New York State.

And YOU can support that effort.

Native to China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia, Lycorma delicatula immigrated to the U.S. in 2014, arriving on shipments of stone countertops delivered to Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since then, they have spread into New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Single specimens of adults or egg masses also have been found in 15 New York counties, including Albany, Orange, Ulster and Westchester.

Spotted Lanternfly (Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

What’s the big to-do? While adult spotted lanternflies feed primarily on ailanthus, also known as tree-of-heaven and itself an invasive species, nymphs feast on some 70 species of plants, including grape vines; fruit trees like apple, plum, cherry and peach; as well as hardwoods such as maples, sycamores and poplars. They suck the sap, stressing the plants and making them more vulnerable to other harmful insects and diseases. In addition, the insects secrete a sticky substance, known as “honeydew,” which attracts molds that limit the growth and yield of fruit trees.   

Vineyards in Berks County have been devastated by spotted lanternflies. In New York, they pose a direct threat to the state’s grape and apple harvests, which combine to generate $358 million annually, as well as the state’s $8.8-billion forest products industry.

How you can help keep spotted lanternflies out of N.Y.

Step 1: Be on the lookout

Spotted lanternflies have a distinctive appearance, unlike any other local insects, so if you see one, you’ll know what it is — provided you know what to look for. To get started, check out these illustrated ID tips.

Spotted Lanternfly Eggs (Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

Step 2: Check for hitchhikers

Despite their name, spotted lanternflies are not very good fliers — they much prefer “hitchhiking.” New York State has established checkpoints along main transportation corridors and in cities and rail yards to search for insects coming in on commercial shipments from infested areas. If you travel to a place where spotted lanternflies are a problem — this map shows confirmed locations — check your car or any outdoor equipment for adults, nymphs or egg masses before returning home.

Immature Spotted Lanternflies (Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

Step 3: Notify NYS

Finally, if you think you see a spotted lanternfly in New York, take some photos and either email them — with the location — to or fill out this online form. Someone will get in touch with you shortly. If possible, collect a specimen and place it in alcohol or the freezer.

With a little effort, combined with some luck, we can limit the spread of these pests into the Hudson Valley and the rest of N.Y.

Lantern Fly

Spotted Lantern

Now, more than ever, be on the lookout for spotted lantern flies. Sightings of these EXTREMELY harmful insects, native to Asia, have just been confirmed in Manhattan’s Riverside Park as well as across the Hudson in Secaucus, N.J. — bringing them perilously close to the Hudson Valley. Last year, they also were discovered in three upstate counties and on Long Island.

The flies feed on the sap of — and can wreak great havoc on — more than 70 plant species. Favorite food sources include apple trees and grape vines, whose yields add $358 million to New York’s economy each year. The flies also secrete an unpleasant, sticky substance (known as honeydew) that can get on the hair and clothes of those trying to enjoy outdoor recreation.

Spotted Lantern
Spotted Lantern fly Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture ,

Warmer temperatures encourage the flies’ northward migration, and humans facilitate their move — the bugs lay eggs on firewood and other objects left outdoors and then transported elsewhere. While the state Department of Agriculture & Markets has issued a quarantine on certain goods from areas in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia most hard-hit by this infestation, the recent sightings show it’s not foolproof —and that your help is urgently needed to halt the insects’ spread into our region.

This fact sheet offers tips for identifying spotted lantern flies and what you can do to keep these pests in check.