A dangerously invasive insect was spotted right outside of the Hudson Valley, and it could be headed our way.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced on Tuesday that the spotted lanternfly was discovered in two New York counties. The insect is a destructive pest that eats and destroys more than 70 plant species. Besides destroying plants, the lanternfly also excretes large amounts of a gross, sticky "honeydew," which can attract huge swarms of other insects and mold.

The insects have been on the DEC's radar for quite some time, and now two confirmed sightings has the agency concerned for our area's ecosystem. A single spotted lanternfly was discovered inside a car in the Capitol District. Another was found at a home in Yates County.

It's possible that the spotted lanternfly has already made its way to the Hudson Valley. The DEC is encouraging local residents to be on the lookout for the insect, which is usually active between the months of July and December.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

The insects are an inch long and have very noticeable, orange and white spotted wings when they are open.  When closed, the insects look much smaller and less colorful, as depicted in the photo above. Signs that your property may be infested with spotted lanternflies include:

  • Sap oozing or weeping from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear wet and give off fermented odors.
  • One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
  • Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold developing.

Anyone that thinks they have discovered evidence of a spotted lanternfly in the Hudson Valley is encouraged to make note of the exact location and send a photo to spottedlanternfly@dec.ny.gov.