Morelle seeks to strengthen fight against ag pest, the spotted lanternfly

Photos courtesy of NYS Department of Ag & Markets: The spotted lanternfly adults are about 1-inch long and half-inch wide with wings folded. Adults can hop several feet if startled. SLF feeding can stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. SLF also excretes large amounts of sticky “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants, negatively impacting agriculture and forest health.

Posted 7 June 2023 at 10:58 am

Press Release, Congressman Joe Morelle

Congressman Joe Morelle announced he is introducing legislation to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that poses a significant threat to New York’s agricultural economy.

“The Finger Lakes region is famous for our production of apples and wine grapes, which fuel both our economy and tourism sectors. But these crops—and the livelihoods of farmers who produce them—are being threatened by the invasive spotted lanternfly,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “Without action, these insects will devastate our region’s agricultural economy. I’m introducing bipartisan legislation to invest in critical mitigation efforts and stop this destruction before it is too late.”

 Morelle has authored and will soon be introducing the Spotted Lanternfly Research and Development Act, which designates the spotted lanternfly as a high-priority research and extension initiative under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

This designation authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to make competitive grants available for research projects related to the mitigation of this invasive species so we can find creative solutions to stop the spread before New York’s cash crops are further decimated. This is the latest in a series of actions Morelle has taken to combat the spread of the spotted lanternfly, including securing $4 million for eradication efforts through the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2021.

“I’m grateful for Congressman Morelle’s leadership on this critical legislation,” said Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “As New York’s Land-Grant institution, we’re committed to developing science-based solutions to manage invasive species like SLF, posing wide-ranging threats to our agricultural and residential communities alike. I applaud this effort to help our research and extension efforts scale to meet the growing need.”

“The spotted lanternfly poses great risk to New York’s vineyards, fruit orchards, hops production and forestry as the invasive species moves north through the state,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President. “Research and education will be the best options to mitigate the spread and diminish its impacts. New York Farm Bureau thanks Rep. Morelle for prioritizing funding in the next Farm Bill through the Spotted Lanternfly Research and Development Act that will expedite grants to learn more about combatting the pest.”

“As the spotted lanternfly increases its range, we are seeing greater impacts caused by this new invasive species,” said Brian Eshenaur, Invasive Species and Spotted Lanternfly outreach Specialist with Cornell’s Integrated Pest Management Program. “Since the effects on Agriculture were unknown before it arrived in the US, research is vital at this time to help producers mitigate damage. We’re grateful that Congressman Morelle recognizes the threat and is introducing this important new legislation.”

How you can help stop the spread:

  • Learn how to identify the Spotted Lanternfly.
  • Inspect outdoor items such as firewood, vehicles, and furniture for egg masses.
  • If you visit other states with Spotted Lanternfly, be sure to check all equipment and gear before leaving and scrape off any egg masses.
  • Report sightings by completing this form (click here).
  • If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, kill it immediately by stepping on it or crushing it.

Morelle said he is also fighting to provide relief for farmers whose crop has been impacted by frost and severe weather by urging USDA to prepare for a disaster declaration and make funds available for growers who suffer extensive damage.