Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Arrives On Roosevelt Island - Slow Their Spread And Save Our Trees By Squashing Them

I asked Roosvelt Island resident and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico;
Have you noticed if the Spotted Lantern butterfly is a problem yet on Roosevelt Island?

Ms Delfico replied:

Spotting the Invasive Spotted Lanternfly & Why it Matters

As someone who stops to smell the daisies, and notices all the living things dependent upon the plants around us, I started hearing about the Spotted Lanternfly from experts in the insect world and urban naturalist community months ago. The hope was it wouldn’t come to NYC, but having been spotted in Pennsylvania everyone knew it was on its way.

So much of our work is about protecting public open green spaces and restoring balance by nurturing plantings to attract pollinators like the butterflies, wild bumble bees, birds and flower flies that any talk of killing a living thing is disturbing. Getting the word out is important, as is educating the public on the invasive, albeit beautiful, Spotted Lanternfly. 

Traditionally, there are checks and balances in nature. Introduced and invasive species of insects, plants, fish and birds often don’t have predators to keep their populations from exploding in number. And that is the case with the invasive Spotted Lanternfly which sucks sap, weakening trees and leaves a sticky residue prone to sooty mold. The natural predator, a parasitic wasp, doesn't live here. And even though there is a study happening right now to see if local and migrating birds will eat it, there isn’t a lot of time to waste. 

So while the life cycle study of the Monarch butterfly may lead to protecting it, please watch this two-minute video from Pennsylvania State University to become familiar with the Spotted Lanternfly in all cycles of its life - from egg to nymph to adult - and learn what to do. 

Do you think you found Spotted Lanternfly in New York? Report it to NYS Dept. Agriculture and Markets, using the Spotted Lanternfly Public Report.

According to the NYC Parks Department:

... Harming our city’s wildlife is prohibited, but in an effort to slow the spread of this troublesome species, we are putting out a one-time call: if you see a spotted lanternfly, please squish and dispose of this invasive pest....

Roosevelt Island Garden Club President Neil Weissman adds:

They arrived in PA a few years ago and now they are in all five Burroughs of NY. I have a friend in NJ who owns a Tree of Heaven, their favorite tree, and a swarm of Spotted Lanternflies have covered her garden. I have seen a couple on Governor island last weekend. We have seen them in the Roosevelt Island garden and elsewhere on the island. I have personally killed 2 so far. (Kill one this year so you do not need to kill 50 next year.) They are harmless to humans but deadly to trees and plants. They like to climb trees so they must have thought I was a tree when it climbed up my leg before I killed it after several attempts. They hop around when you try to step on them.

In addition to putting up a 'Wanted Dead" poster on our bulletin board about the Spotted LanternFly we recently sent out this notice to our garden club membership:

These insects are active late in the day and at night. Bring your rolled up newspapers, your fly swatters, your boots with heals and crush this enemy of our trees and plant. We need to move fast because they move like grasshoppers. This is the time, the month of September is when they lay their eggs. Look for that brown peanut brittle spread. It could be on the bark of a tree or on any hard surface, rocks, bricks, metal, wood. Remove it, destroy it. 

They are notorious hitchhikers. Please try not to bring them from any gardening center in another borough, NJ, or PA. Lets act early and vigilantly before they can establish their swarming colonies.

Today, I asked the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) what they are doing about the Spotted Lanternfly. No response yet.