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  • New York State Integrated Pest Management
Nationally recognized researchers and regulatory officials from across the United States and Canada gathered at Cornell AgriTech’s Geneva campus April 11 through 13 to encourage collaboration, expand research networks and broaden advocacy efforts related to invasive Spotted lanternfly.

Building on the momentum of a March virtual summit, New York State Integrated Pest Management’s (NYSIPM) Brian Eshenaur, a senior extension associate and Spotted lanternfly expert, and NYSIPM Extension Aide Jacob Leeser organized the first-of-its-kind workshop in an effort to facilitate the creation of a roadmap for managing the pest.

Invasive species are a form of biological pollution, posing a significant risk to our food supply, threatening our biodiversity, and, in many cases, impacting human health.
NYSIPM Director Alejandro Calixto

“This workshop is the next step in our efforts to control the spread of Spotted lanternfly, bringing together leading researchers and regulators,” Eshenaur said. “We’re in the same room having important conversations, comparing observations and starting to determine where gaps are in the understanding of this pest and the damage it may cause.”

The first Spotted lanternfly in the U.S. was confirmed in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 and was believed to be transported in a shipping container carrying stone from China. The pests are hitchhikers and easily introduced to new areas through human activity. Despite efforts by state and federal officials to quarantine infestation areas, a distribution map created by NYSIPM shows that the pest has now been confirmed in a dozen states. While they don’t sting or bite, the pests do pose a significant threat.

“Invasive species are a form of biological pollution, posing a significant risk to our food supply, threatening our biodiversity, and, in many cases, impacting human health. It is estimated that the economic impact of invasive species in the U.S. exceeds more than $130 billion each year combined in lost goods, services, and increased healthcare,” NYSIPM Director Alejandro Calixto told workshop participants, while encouraging them to work toward increasing public awareness, identifying research collaborations, advocate for funding for applied research and management and lobby for a rapid response approach for dealing with infestations.

Spotted lanternfly serve as a significant economic and lifestyle pest for homeowners, businesses, tourism, forestry and agriculture. Adult lanternfly feed in swarms and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which results in sooty mold growth and attracts other insects. The pests are particularly attracted to vineyards and have the potential to devastate the wine and juice grape industry.

New York State saw its first confirmed population in 2020 and New York City residents battled record numbers of Spotted lanternfly last summer. Increased populations are expected in the NYC area this year, necessitating comprehensive evaluation of potential public health risks in urban settings. Sightings have also been reported in Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca.

NYSIPM’s workshop included remarks from AgriTech Interim Director Olga Padilla-Zakour and Congressman Joe Morelle; a state of the states update facilitated by Julie Urban, associate research professor at Penn State University, and recognized Spotted lanternfly expert; panel discussions on research and advocacy; a poster session and candid conversations about what has and has not worked and where researchers should focus their efforts moving forward.

While the workshop confirmed that there is much work to be done, Eshenaur said attendees left feeling inspired by their colleagues and eager to put their research and combined commitment to combatting the pest to work in the months ahead.

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