Researchers monitoring Spotted Lanternfly sightings in WNY
Researchers are monitoring Spotted Lanternfly sightings in WNY.
Add another item to the list of invasive species Western New York agriculture professionals will need to monitor this summer.
The Spotted Lanternfly has been identified at Sunshine Park in West Seneca, which has researchers at Cornell concerned.
“This lantern fly is a voracious feeder,” Jennifer Phillips Russo said. “For instance, there was a vineyard down in southeast Pennsylvania that they discovered in 2017, and in 2019 that vineyard was dead.”
Russo is the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Team Leader and Viticulture Specialist at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory Regional Grape Program in Portland, New York.
Researchers believe the Spotted Lanternfly hitched a ride to the United States on a shipment of landscaping rocks from China sometime in 2014.
“The numbers just built up, we think in wooded areas, until we finally noticed it in vineyards in 2017,” Russo said.
What has farmers, scientists, and wineries concerned is that Spotted Lanternfly feeds on grapes and other fruit trees, in addition to another invasive species, Tree of Heaven.
“Tree of Heaven also came from China and Southeast Asia,” Russo said. “It was brought over here as an ornamental plant.”
With Tree of Heaven also spreading throughout the nation, the Spotted Lanternfly spreads with it as a main food source.
“But if that’s not available, its next favorite thing is grapes,” Russo said. “It’s also hops and apples, and we’re talking wine, beer, and cider industries for New York State, not to mention the fresh markets.”