SCHUMER REVEALS: INVASIVE BUG THAT COULD HITCH A RIDE ON YOUR FRESH-CUT CHRISTMAS TREE THREATENS LONG ISLAND TREES & TOURISM; INSECT CAN GET FREE RIDE ON XMAS TREES THAT COME FROM NEARBY STATES, FOR SALE AT SOME LI BIG-BOXES; THEN WREAK HAVOC ON LEAFY NEIGHBORHOODS, LOCAL VINEYARDS & MORE; SENATOR URGES FEDS TO FIGHT PEST BEFORE IT MOVES IN ON US, NOT AFTER
The Spotted Lanternfly Was Already Found Alive In Suffolk This Past Fall & Is Infesting Neighbor States Like PA & NJ; Invasive Insect Feeds Like A Vampire On 70 Different Kinds Of Trees, Plants & Crops, Including ‘Christmas Tree’ Species
Left Unchecked, The Bug Could Kill Off Places We Love; From LI Parks, To LI Apple Farms, Wineries & Vineyards
Schumer To Feds: We Cannot Allow The Spotted Lanternfly To Light Up Long Island Like A Christmas Tree
Standing at Lowe’s Home Improvement, where many fresh-cut Christmas trees from outside of New York make a yearly big-box debut, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer both sounded the alarm and revealed that an invasive bug, the Spotted Lanternfly, could actually be hitching an easy ride to Long Island—on your fresh-cut Christmas tree. The bug threatens Long Island’s leafy neighborhoods and some of the places families love, including apple farms and vineyards.
“If there is one thing we know about Long Island it is that this place is made even more beautiful by big and attractive trees, as well as pristine farms and wineries. That’s why I am calling federal attention to an insect that if gone unchecked could sink its teeth into the leafy neighborhoods, job-creating farms and nearby destinations we love, like vineyards,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The Spotted Lantern fly may sound like a cute name, but it is no lovebug. The spotted lanternfly has already moved into neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey—the exact places some of our big-box Christmas trees hail.”
Schumer explained how Christmas trees from nearby states that are sold at various Long Island big-box stores could increase the odds of the Spotted Lanternfly thriving across the Island, where the bug would undoubtedly wreak havoc on a variety of trees and plants we love. Schumer urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not only continue the work they are doing in tandem with the New York State, but to put the Spotted Lanternfly on a ‘least wanted’ on Long Island list and commit to increased resources and dollars needed to fight it before it advances locally, not after.
Pennsylvania, for example, which is classified as infested, got $17.5 million in federal funds to help beat back the bug. Schumer says New York should get its own kind of proactive funds and comparable amount to fend off the insect.
“Any chance for some of these unwelcome bugs to hitch a free ride to Long Island is a chance we cannot take. That is why today I am calling on the USDA to not only continue the good work they are doing with New York State to help prevent this pest from grabbing a foothold in New York State, but additionally, to urge them to robustly invest the funding, resources, and technical expertise needed to prevent this bug from lighting up the Island like a Christmas tree, Schumer added.”
Schumer explained how Christmas trees that come from nearby states and are then sold at big-box stores across Long Island can increase the odds of the Spotted Lanternfly thriving across the region. The bug could survive a trip to Long Island in its egg form, and pending the right conditions, later hatch. New York is currently the second largest apple producing state in the country, while also being home to more than 1,630 family vineyards, 400 wineries, and almost 40,000 acres of cropland for grapes. If the Spotted Lanternfly is able to grab a stronghold on Long Island, it will be a threat to the continued success of local apple and hop farms, vineyards and wineries.
There are several hop farms throughout Long Island which produce a variety of different kinds of hops and supply breweries throughout the region. Moreover, there are more than 90 combined vineyards and wineries on the Island, according to the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. Long Island wineries have boosted agritourism for the region as more and more people choose Long Island as a prime weekend destination.
Schumer praised the work being done currently by USDA and New York State to monitor for sightings of this new pest and to educate locals on best ways to spot this invasive species. However, today, he urged the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) to invest robust funding, resources, and technical expertise to fight against a new pest that could negatively impact Long Island. Schumer added that it is critical that USDA quickly devotes further resources, specifically to New York State, to help ensure that the pest does not travel throughout the state, while also using their technical expertise on the ground to help state and local officials educate Nassau and Suffolk park staff, local growers, and the surrounding communities on strategies for detection and best practices.
“As the second largest apple producing state in the country, and with a growing beer and wine industry, especially here on Long Island, agriculture is a vital economy to New York State” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “We cannot afford to have a pest threaten major crops such as apples, grapes, and hops upon which the livelihoods of our farmers and growers depend. I commend Senator Schumer for immediately calling for action and funding to prevent the Spotted Lanternfly from migrating to our state, and I join him in calling for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services to invest in the fight to stop this invasive species from gaining a stronghold in New York.”
“We have seen the destructive impacts that invasive species can cause to the Long Island ecosystem and the financial costs these pests incur on Long Island businesses. I applaud Senator Schumer for fighting to increased funding to prevent the spread of invasive species such as the spotted lanternfly” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This is cost effective public policy that reflects an important long term investment in the protection of our heritage agricultural businesses here in Suffolk County.”
"We must protect our local ecosystems for future generations” said Senator-Elect Kevin Thomas. “The spotted lanternfly could potentially devastate the tourism and agricultural industries here on Long Island. I applaud Senator Schumer for taking on this invasive species before it infests New York's forests, farms and vineyards."
“The arrival of the spotted lantern fly on Long Island will adversely impact our $240 million dollar agricultural industry in Nassau and Suffolk” said Rob Carpenter, Executive Director of the Long Island Farm Bureau. “With the potential to damage our nursery, orchard, vineyard and hops crops it could severely set back our burgeoning craft beverage industry not to mention the operations working hard to benefit all our residents. We applaud Senator Schumer for all his efforts to bring the necessary funding to New York for research on controlling and/or eradicating this pest.”
Steven Bate, Acting Director of the Long Island Wine Council, said, “We are very grateful to Senator Schumer for highlighting the risks to our industry from this pest and welcome his support for critical research efforts to combat this significant threat to specialty crops on Long Island and in the Eastern United States.”
The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive species native to China and Southeastern Asia. This invasive pest was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in September of 2014 and has since been found in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. Recently, in New York State, the first live lanternfly has been detected in Suffolk County; along with multiple dead lanternflies discovered in Delaware, Albany and Yates Counties, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The SLF spreads primarily through human activity by hitching rides to new areas when they lay their eggs on various objects such as vehicles, firewood, and even Christmas trees that are transported from one state and sold in another.
According NYS’ Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Spotted Lanternfly poses a risk to New York’s agricultural health because they feed on the sap of more than 70 plant species, which makes plants and trees vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. Moreover, the Spotted Lanternfly excretes large amounts of sticky “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants, as reported by NYS DEC. The Spotted Lanternfly is known to attack various types of trees such as Willows, Maples, Lindens, and Pine trees, all found in abundance in the region, as well as a variety of different crops including grapes, apples and hops. These crops are vital to the continued success of New York and Long Island’s farmers and growers.
Schumer wants Long Islanders to know how they too can combat this invasive species. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has identified ways New Yorkers can help manage the Spotted Lanternfly:
- Learn how to identify SLF.
- Inspect Christmas trees for egg masses.
- If you believe you have found SLF in NY
- Take pictures of the insect, egg masses and/or infestation signs.
- Note the location.
- Email the information to DEC.
- Report the infestation by calling 518-402-8913
Schumer was joined by Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive; Kevin Thomas, Senator-Elect for NYS 6th District; Rob Carpenter, Executive Director of the Long Island Farm Bureau; Steven Bate, Executive Director of the Long Island Wine Council; Dan Gilrein, Entomologist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension; Alice Wise, Viticulture Specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension; Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kauffman, Integrated Pest Management, Cornell Cooperative Extension; and Augie Ruckdeschel, East End Projects Coordinator for Suffolk County.
Schumer’s letter to USDA Secretary Purdue appears below:
Dear Secretary Perdue:
I write to urge the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to invest robust funding and resources to fight against a new pest that could negatively affect New York State and Long Island. It has come to my attention that the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), a new invasive species, was recently found in Delaware County, the first sighting of this invasive pest in the state of New York. I commend USDA for its recent funding of SLF surveys through sec. 10007 funding; however, it is critical that APHIS quickly devotes further resources specifically to New York State to help ensure that the pest has not traveled throughout to any part of the state, while also using their technical expertise on the ground to help state and local officials educate our farmers, growers, and the surrounding communities on strategies to for detection and best practices to help ensure that the Spotted Lanternfly stays out of New York.
As you know, the Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species native to China and Southeastern Asia. This invasive pest was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in September of 2014. Recently, In New York State, the first live lanternfly has been detected in Suffolk County; along with multiple dead lanternflies discovered in Delaware, Albany and Yates Counties, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Furthermore, the Spotted Lanternfly is known to attack and target a variety of different crops including grapes apples and hops. These crops are vital to the continued success of New York’s farmers and growers. New York is currently the second largest apple producing state in the country, while also being home to more than 1,630 family vineyards, 400 wineries, and almost 40,000 acres of cropland for grapes. Therefore, it is crucial that APHIS devotes all available resources towards educating our communities on how to spot and combat this invasive pest.
If the Spotted Lanternfly is able to migrate from Pennsylvania and grabs a stronghold in New York, it will be a threat to the continued success of New York’s agricultural industry. I appreciate the work that APHIS has done to work with our farmers to combat a wide variety of invasive species throughout the country, but I ask that you robustly invest funding, resources, and technical expertise to examining all potential controls to keep this pest out of New York. In addition, I request that you continue to work with local partners and communities to best educate growers about detection, as well as coordinating further response efforts in order to ensure live lanternflies do not cross the border into New York. I look forward to working with you to protect New York’s valuable agricultural products and appreciate your attention to this important request.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer