CENTRAL PARK — There’s a new visitor to the city and the region — and it’s already causing some trouble.
A pesky insect has been moving in and threatening agriculture and trees. The spotted lanternfly should be squished when spotted, according to the New York City Parks Department.
Native to Asia, they hitched a ride a few years ago to Pennsylvania and have been heading east — and eating trees and plants, damaging crops in their path. They’re not harmful to people or pets, and they don’t sting or bite.
David Barrett tracks nature, birds and insects and posts on a popular Twitter handle called Bird Central Park.
“After months of just some observations, in the last two weeks, observations have spiked,” he said.
Brian Eshenaur is a research specialist with Cornell University and New York State Integrated Pest Management.
“There is a lot of research taking place. We hope some biological control will take care of it and will reduce the population in time,” he said.
A certain fungi could kill them or local predators could emerge. It’s mating time now. Eggs will be laid in September and will hatch in the spring. Crops and the agricultural industry in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have already been impacted. Vineyards in New York’s Hudson Valley, on Long Island and in the western part of the state are on alert, as well.
The NYC Parks Department seeks reports on the location of sightings. New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation is also tracking the bugs. People can email pictures and information to those officials.