Spotted lanternfly in NYC: What to expect in summer 2024 l Forecast

See it? Squish it!

The invasive, and annoying, spotted lanternfly is expected to return this summer to NYC. 

JUMP TO: 2024 FORECAST l SPREAD l PREVENTION TIPS

According to a map from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, all of NYC, New Jersey, Long Island and parts of Connecticut were highlighted as reported infestations.

So, what's the forecast for 2024? Will we see more or less of the insect in NYC compared to last year? Here's everything you need to know:

When do spotted lanterflies hatch?

The insects will hatch from May through June, living as adults from July through December. Egg laying takes place from September through November, according to Cornell University.

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"The spotted lanternfly nymphs are currently emerging from the egg masses that were laid last fall," said Brian Eshenaur, senior extension associate with NYS Integrated Pest Management at the university. "Those nymphs are small, flightless and typically feed on vegetation lower to the ground, so they are often go unnoticed. These nymphs will develop into the adult form that we’re very familiar with in July."

Will we see more or less this year in NYC?

"In parts of the city that had high populations of spotted lanternfly for the last two years we are anticipating a slight decline and leveling off of the populations," Eshenaur said. "This population decline which occurs after a couple of years of high populations has occurred in other urban areas and we expect it to play out in NYC as well. It doesn’t mean spotted lanternfly will be gone.  We’ll still see them, but the numbers may be lower this year and going forward."

Meanwhile, Hanna Birkhead, with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, had this to say:

"SLF populations will show variability from season to season," Birkhead said. "In areas where SLF is established, residents will continue to observe significant numbers of SLF."

Why are numbers declining?

"We’re not sure exactly what is responsible for the decline in numbers," Eshenaur said. "Part of it may be due to stress on its favorite host plant, the Tree of Heaven also there seems to be an increase in predators such as other insects and birds that begin to feed on spotted lanternfly after a couple of years."

Where did spotted lanternflies originate from?

The insect originated in China, but has made its way to the northeastern United States (First discovered in NYC in July 2020.) It’s likely that insect eggs came over with a load of landscaping stones. 

Are spotted lanternflies dangerous?

Though harmless to humans, the sap-sucking insect poses a danger to grapes and other agricultural crops, including apples, walnuts, blueberries, grapes, hops, and stone fruits.

What do spotted lanternflies look like?

Pretty with red wing markings, the spotted lanternfly is nonetheless a nuisance and a threat.

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'See it, squish it': Officials asking New Jersey residents to kill spotted lanternflies

The spotted lanternfly is an insect known as a planthopper, which originates in China and can cause devastating damage to agricultural crops and forests.

"Adults are very colorful when their wings are displayed during hopping," NYC 311 says. "They have red hind wings with black spots, have a black head, and a yellow abdomen with black bands. Their grayish forewings have black spots with a distinctive black brick-like pattern on the tips." 

How do spotted lanternflies spread?

The insect has been able to spread so far, so fast because it is a stealthy hitchhiker. Drivers unwittingly give lifts to adults, which look like moths, perched inside trunks, on wheel wells or on bumpers.

"While these insects can jump and fly short distances, they spread mainly through human activity," NYC 311 said. "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."

People also unknowingly transport spotted lanternfly eggs, which are laid later in the season. Females leave masses of 30 or more eggs on all sorts of surfaces, from tree trunks to patio furniture. Eggs laid on portable surfaces, like camping trailers and train cars, can hatch in the spring many miles away.

What should you do if you spot one?

"Harming city’s wildlife is prohibited. However, in an effort to slow the spread of this species, if you see a Spotted Lanternfly you should squish and dispose of it," NYC 311 said.

A similar mindset has been taken in New Jersey in the past, where officials asked residents to kill the insects on sight. 

"The Department continues to work closely with partner agencies such as USDA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation on our continued response to spotted lanternfly (SLF) in New York," Birkhead said. 

How can you help?

Here are some tips from the Department of Environmental Conservation:

  • Learn how to identify them.
  • Inspect outdoor items such as firewood, vehicles, and furniture for egg masses.
  • If you visit other states with them, 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.

The Associated Press wire services helped contribute to this report.