To Squish or Not to Squish?: Spotted Lanternflies Spotted in Boro Park
By Yehudit Garmaise
Now that Boro Parkers are out in their backyards building their sukkahs, residents are faced with the decision of whether and how to kill the spotted lanternflies that New Yorkers have been encouraged to kill.
New Yorkers have been encouraged to squish the one-and-a-half inch bugs because they can wreak havoc on American agriculture, as they did when they invaded Pennsylvania farms in 2014.
Upon arriving on the east coast, the lanternflies, headed straight to feast on fields of grapes, apples, and other fruits, which either destroyed the crops or left marks that made the fruits unsellable, Dr. Jessica Ware, an assistant curator in invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.
“We may not have a lot of crops here in NYC, but we all like to drink grape juice, wine, and eat apples,” Dr. Ware said, referring to update vineyards and farms. “Any population we [see] of the lanternfly can ultimately impact our agriculture.
“These bugs are king of remarkable. They are beautiful, so it is shame we have to kill them.”
Native to China, the lanternflies hopped aboard a shipment of products from the Asian country from which we buy so many products and landed in Pennsylvania, where they harmed 70 species plants by extracting their saps for food.
In addition, local trees, such as Oak, Maple and Chinese Sumac have been harmed by the lanternflies.
The deluge of the lanternflies'’ mass feeding on local trees and plants stresses them and makes them vulnerable to diseases and attacks from other insects.
In 2020, some lanternflies had made their ways to NYC, but now the beautiful bugs, whose gray wings display black dots and other artful markings, are routinely seen citywide.
“Kill it!” the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says. “Squash it, smash it. Just get rid of it.”
“In the fall, these bugs lay egg masses with 30 to 50 eggs each. These are called ‘bad bugs’ for a reason. Don’t let them take over your county next.”
Boro Parkers who can’t bring themselves to squish the lanternflies, however, can remember that Hashem doesn’t create anything without a purpose.
In fact, researchers have discovered that lanternflies are great for bees,” said Robyn Underwood, an assistant research professor at Penn State who focuses on bees.
After the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture placed lanternfly-infested counties under quarantine, researchers found that the bees that already lived in the quarantined areas started to make dark honey with a smoky flavor that Underwood described as, “the epitome of autumn.”
Whether or not New Yorkers choose to squish the spotted lanternflies, residents are encouraged to send photos and report their sightings to [email protected].