NEW YORK (WABC) -- The spotted lanternfly is a pest that keeps coming back stronger year after year.
New York officials held an update Wednesday on the plan to keep fighting the growing problem after the species has already emerged in New York City.
In years' past, the spotted lanternfly eggs didn't hatch until May, but officials say they are hatching earlier this year.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Director for Plant Industry Chris Logue attributes that to the mild winter and warm spring so far.
He thinks that the trend of early emergence is likely for Long Island and parts of the Hudson Valley as well, so it's important for people to be on the lookout for the juvenile flies now.
"However this year it's been a little bit earlier, and we did get reports of emergence in a couple of locations in New York City here last week," Logue said. "And we were able to go out to those locations and actually confirm that the early instar juvenile spotted lantern fly had emerged in those areas. We may find that we have a little bit of an early hatch in other parts of the state as well, I will say obviously New York City is a little bit, is a little bit warmer, so you also have sort of the urban heat sake effect which again probably influenced that earlier emergence as well."
The biggest concern is still for the insect's destructive impact on agriculture -- specifically New York State's grape industry, as grapes seem to be a favorite for the flies.
Logue said we are past the egg-scraping point in their lifecycle, so now it's important for people to stomp or vacuum up the eggs as they hatch and as the spotted lanternflies mature.
The best course of action and advice to New Yorkers is to stomp on the bugs when you see them.
The pests -- which are native to Asia and known for their pale, pinkish gray wings, black dots and scarlet undercoat -- were first documented in Pennsylvania in 2014.
Despite their beauty, the insects are hugely destructive to more than 70 varieties of plants, including crops like walnuts, hops, apples, blueberries and stone fruits.
Experts say when you see one -- have no mercy. Eyewitness News' own Sam Champion even offered his own method of how he gets rid of the pests.
"If you approach them from the front and just give them a good stomp with the foot, they jump forward so they actually jump under your foot as you squash them," Champion said.
Spotted lanternflies were first seen in New York on Staten Island in August 2020 and have since been spotted across the five boroughs, Long Island, and the Northern Suburbs.
Click here to report a sighting of the invasive bug.
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