STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — City Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) is urging two city agencies to help control the invasion of spotted lanternflies on Staten Island, with the invasive pests threatening the borough’s ecology and “reproducing at an alarming rate.”
The councilman recently penned a letter to Susan M. Donohue, commissioner of the city Department of Parks and Recreation, and Dr. Ashwin Vassan, commissioner of the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, requesting “a remediation to an emerging conservation matter.’’
“Our Island is facing a new threat to our ecology, as invasions of spotted lanternflies are reproducing at an alarming rate,’’ stated Borelli in the letter, noting that the issue is affecting the borough’s most lush parks and surrounding areas.
“More needs to be done, not only to curb the population growth, but to educate residents on spotted lanternflies in order to clear up any misconceptions or false information,’’ the letter stated. “My office has received a number of complaints from park-goers, property owners and community members even fearful to step outside of their own home.’’
Requests for comment from the agencies went unanswered at the time of publication of this report. However, a Parks Department spokesman said the office had yet to receive the letter, but the commissioner would review the request.
Residents across the Staten Island reported seeing small, black tick-like creatures taking over trees, decks and wires in June. What they were seeing were lanternfly instars, or newly hatched nymphs, recently emerged from lanternfly egg masses.
Thea Baird, of Tottenville, told the Advance/Silive.com that hundreds of nymphs were “all over, everywhere” in her yard.
And in July, the spotted lanternflies had already begun taking on their familiar red coloration across Staten Island. The invasive pests feed on more than 70 plant species, including tree-of-heaven. Not only are they a nuisance, they’re also a threat to plants and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as grapevines, hops, apple trees and maple trees, the state Department of Agriculture warned.
Borelli is sponsoring a free workshop for residents interested in building spotted lanternfly traps at Conference House Park in Tottenville on Saturday, Aug. 6.
The trap-building session will run from 10 a.m. to noon, and materials, tools and instructions will be provided.
“With no known native predators, it is crucial to stop the spread before the species potentially decimates North American crops and native tree population,’’ according to the event announcement.