Published: Oct. 28, 2022, 3:07 p.m.

By Ann Marie Barron |

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — There may be a chill in the air, but that hasn’t stopped the spotted lanternfly from swarming on Staten Island lawns and gardens, spreading larvae to ensure next spring’s pesky population.

The destructive insects with colorful wings — known to be a threat to plants and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy — are still swarming in big numbers in the Island’s many residential neighborhoods, mating and laying eggs. New Yorkers continue to be urged to try to control the population.

The insects feed on more than 70 plant species, including tree-of-heaven, and they threaten the state’s grapevines, hops, apple trees and maple trees, the state Department of Agriculture warns.

And their mating will continue until the first freeze hits, experts warn.

On Staten Island, that requires several days of temperatures of 28 degrees or colder — something that usually doesn’t happen until mid-December in New York City.

And even then, when frigid weather finally kills the fully grown spotted lanternflies, experts say most of the eggs they deposit on the sides of trees, firewood and other outdoor flat objects will survive through the winter season

South Shore residents have been complaining about the infestation for months, and a flood of complaints have recently come into the office of City Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore), who has announced a “hunt,” an insect-stomping event, to take place on Sunday, Oct. 30.

“Something has to be done to help combat these pests,’’ Borelli said. “We all know first-hand how annoying these flies can be. This hunt will help curb the spread in the larvae phase, so that next season their population will be smaller.”

His office is also coordinating with NYC H2O to teach attendees how to create lanternfly traps during the event.

“We’re looking forward to continuing the series at the Conference House Park, as we’ve received numerous complaints connected to the wooded area,’’ Borelli said in his announcement of the event.

Spotted lanternflies were widely blamed for damaged trees across the South and West shores of Staten Island last fall, and have continued to be active this year.

Though its common to see photos of lanternflies in flight with wings spread, showing off the colorful crimson, it is much more common to see them resting on tree bark, blending in with their surroundings, with black-spotted, pinkish-tan wings folded over their back.

In addition to Tree of heaven, they are most commonly noticed on black walnut trees, maples, willow, river birch, black cherry and tulip poplar, among others.

First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly has since been found in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and New York. It was first confirmed in New York state on Staten Island in August 2020. This spring, Staten Islanders began noticing the lanternfly nymphs all over their properties. As the weather turns cooler, the full-grown insects remain out in full force.


The lanternfly hunt will take place at Conference House Park, 298 Satterlee St., from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

Both children and adults are invited to take action against one of our ecosystem’s most pesky nuisances during the event.

For more information, and to sign-up, visit

This hunt will help curb the spread in the larvae phase, so that next season their population will be smaller,’’ Borelli said. “It’s always a pleasure to partner with NYC H2O, and we’re happy they’re up for the job. If you’re looking for something fun and interactive for the family, come down on Sunday and acquire your official/unofficial hunting license and show off your hunting skills with these pesky critters.”