By: Benyamin Davidsons
Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to squash a newly arrived invasive insect, using $22 million in federal funds.
As reported by the NY Post, on Sunday at a press conference near Central Park, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader pointed to the arrival of the spotted lanternfly in New York. He warned that if the pest isn’t controlled, New York’s agriculture and economy could take a hit. “The spotted lanternfly is no longer just a threat to New York, it’s here, and it’s ready for its closeup,” Schumer said in a statement. “For years now, I have warned about the pest, but today, we are here demanding action because pockets of New York City, Long Island and upstate are now infested by the invasive bug that wreaks havoc on trees, vineyards and crops.”
Swarms of the planthopper, indigenous to parts of China, have been seen and identified in Central Park, long Island wineries and farms in upstate NY. The pest deprives plants of their sap, leaving the vegetation susceptible to the danger of contracting diseases or being preyed on by other pests. The insect feeds on 70 different species of trees, as well as vines, shrubs, fruit trees, and hardwoods. The first of its kind to be seen in the U.S. were found in Pennsylvania in 2014.
“This is a multi-million-dollar threat to New York’s economy — both tourism and agriculture are now at risk if the spotted lanternfly goes unchecked,” said Schumer. “But the good news here is that we have federal funds already in place, that I secured, to help New York contain the bug, and that we will be pushing for more.” The Department of Agriculture and Markets have issued a quarantine that would restrict goods brought into New York from affected areas in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
The State has also set up a protective zone including some twenty New York counties, including Bronx, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties, linked to the battle against the spotted lanternfly. The zones allow NYS’ Department of Environmental Conservation and others to more swiftly respond to the spotted lanternfly threat in those places.
The State’s DEC is also conducting trapping surveys and monitoring spotted-lanternfly populations. It has also undertaken to educate the public on the lanternflies –how to identify and report them to the state. People are even being instructed to squish the insect upon sight. “It’s a good idea if you can kill them, to do that,” Brian Eshenaur, a senior extension associate for ornamental crops at Cornell University’s pest management division, told ABC News. Likewise, NYC’s Parks Department offers this guidance on the website: “Harming our city’s wildlife is broadly prohibited, but in an effort to slow the spread of this troublesome species, the current guidance remains: if you see a spotted lanternfly, please squish and dispose of this invasive pest”.