NEW YORK (PIX11) — To help combat the spread of the crop-eating, invasive spotted lanternfly, Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday called on the federal government to step in and help.
The senator said parts of New York City, Long Island and upstate New York are now infested with the pesky bug. The insect is known to feast on plants, trees and crops.
“They feed on the sap of more than 70 plant species,” he said. “They are spreading in New York State and we’ve got to stop them in time before they decimate our trees, our agricultural crops, and our plants.”
Schumer called on the Federal Department of Agriculture to release existing funds to the state to help with eradication measures. He also pushed for an additional $22 million to be allocated in the upcoming federal budget.
Dr. Kelli Hoover, an entomologist at Penn State University, said the plant-hopping bug originated in China. It was first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has now surfaced in 12 states.
Hoover said eradicating the bug is difficult because spotted lanternflies move all the time and there is no perfect tool to trap them. She agrees more money is needed to combat the pesky bug.
“Because you’re going to have to have a lot of people out there surveying where they’re known to be. And around that area going out further and further with eyes and traps. To see how far out this insect is found,” she said.
Hoover said residents can do their part in eradication efforts. If you see a spotted lanternfly, take a picture, stomp on the bug and then report the sighting to the state to stop the spread.
In a statement responding to how the federal government is addressing the spotted lanternfly issue, Matthew Travis, National Policy Manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) spoke about The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) Program.
The program is an initiative between the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and State Departments of Agriculture, including the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets.
In the statement, he said in part, “APHIS works closely with its State cooperators to minimize the risk of artificial spread of this invasive pest by focusing primary control measures on high-risk transportation and commodity pathways (such as trains and vehicles).”
He added, “The Program conducts targeted treatments of SLF, removes SLF egg masses from outdoor surfaces, and removes SLF’s preferred host plant, the tree of heaven, from transportation hubs. Several states, including New York, have established state quarantines to further reduce the spread. Additionally, the Program conducts extensive public outreach campaign. The public has played a key role in detecting SLF and the success of stopping its spread depends on help from the public.”
He added, APHIS has distributed around $12 million dollars this year to states to combat SLF.