Eastern Long Island vineyards look to ward off spotted lanternflies
Farms across eastern Long Island are hoping to fend off an invasion of a new type of pest.
The spotted lanternfly is considered to be a serious threat to vineyards and other industries out east.
Cornell Cooperative Extension, which connects communities with research from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, issued an alert after the species was discovered on private land south of MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma in October.
"It can devastate our vineyards," says Kareem Massoud, a winemaker at Paumanok Vineyard. "What these insects will do, they will feed on the grapevine itself and essentially if there's an infestation, it could keep the vine. It's a very messy affair, it leaves us sappy residue that eventually becomes moldy and can kill the vine."
The insect is a plant hopper, which experts say means it has a notorious reputation for laying eggs on almost everything.
The spotted lanternfly first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014 but is native to China, India and Vietnam.
Local farmers are bracing for the impact and hoping that by educating everyone, they'll be able to slow the spread.
"We know it's going to end up out here, it's just a matter of when," says Bill Zalakar, of the Long Island Farm Bureau. "We're trying to stall it as much as we can just so that more research can be done, and more resources can be devoted to protecting our industry."
Have you seen a spotted latternfly: Here's what you need to know about the risk the invasive pest poses to our agriculture
Anyone who sees one of the bugs is encouraged to trap it, kill it and report it. The insect isn't dangerous to people.
They can send the report to firstname.lastname@example.org.