Battling Lanternflies in New York: A Guide to Control and Prevention

In recent years, New York has faced a growing threat from an invasive insect known as the lanternfly. Originally native to East Asia, these pests have quickly established themselves in various parts of the state, wreaking havoc on agricultural crops, landscapes, and ecosystems. The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has the potential to cause significant economic and environmental damage. This article will delve into the details of lanternflies in New York, their impact, and effective methods for control and prevention.

The Spotted Lanternfly Threat

Spotted Lanternflies, named for their striking appearance, are a major concern in New York due to their ability to feed on a wide range of plants, including grapes, fruit trees, hardwoods, and ornamental plants. This feeding can weaken plants, hinder growth, and even lead to plant mortality. Additionally, the insects excrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which attracts sooty mold and promotes the growth of fungal diseases. These factors combined can devastate agricultural industries, impact forest health, and compromise the aesthetics of urban and rural landscapes.

Identification and Life Cycle

Identifying the Spotted Lanternfly is crucial for effective control. The adult lanternflies are about one inch long and feature distinctive black spots on their forewings and vibrant red hindwings. The nymphs, which hatch from egg masses laid on surfaces like tree trunks and outdoor furniture, are smaller and black with white spots. Understanding their life cycle helps in planning control strategies:

  1. Egg Stage: Eggs are laid in masses of 30-50 and appear as grayish, waxy patches on surfaces.
  2. Nymph Stage: After hatching, nymphs go through four instars. They are black with white spots and become increasingly reddish-orange with age.
  3. Adult Stage: Adult lanternflies emerge in late summer. They have black bodies with striking red and white markings on their wings.

Control and Prevention

Efforts to control and prevent lanternfly infestations require a combination of strategies, including both chemical and non-chemical methods. Here’s a comprehensive approach:

  1. Early Detection: Regularly inspect trees, outdoor furniture, and other objects for egg masses, nymphs, and adults. Remove and destroy any eggs or insects found.
  2. Physical Barriers: Wrap trees with sticky bands or tape to trap nymphs as they crawl up the trunk.
  3. Chemical Control: Insecticides can be effective but should be used with caution and as part of an integrated pest management plan. Consult with local agricultural extension offices for recommendations.
  4. Biological Control: Introduce natural predators, such as predatory wasps, to help manage lanternfly populations.
  5. Tree-of-Heaven Removal: Lanternflies prefer the Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) as a host plant. Removing these trees can help reduce the insect’s breeding sites.
  6. Public Awareness and Reporting: Educate the public about lanternflies, their appearance, and the importance of reporting sightings to local authorities.


The emergence of the Spotted Lanternfly in New York demands immediate attention and effective action. A collaborative effort involving residents, farmers, arborists, and government agencies is necessary to control and prevent the spread of these invasive insects. By implementing a combination of early detection, integrated pest management, and public awareness, New York can better protect its agricultural and natural landscapes from the devastation caused by lanternflies. Remember, informed action is key in the battle against this invasive species.