Westchester County fighting spotted lanternflies with powerful vacuums

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Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Westchester County fighting spotted lanternflies with powerful vacuums
Officials in Westchester County are fighting off the spotted lanternfly from parks and recreational areas with new vacuums. Marcus Solis has the story.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY (WABC) -- Officials in Westchester County are taking new steps to fight off the spotted lanternfly from parks and recreational areas.

The invasive species can cause significant damage to parks and wooded areas and can devastate trees.

The Westchester County Parks Department has recently acquired five high-powered commercial vacuums that are used to suck up large clusters of the insects.

Taro Ietaka is a conservation supervisor who says this is the first year the large outbreaks have been found in southern Westchester after lanternflies were first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014.

They particularly are harmful to fruit trees. The adults won't survive the winter, but the eggs will which is why getting them now is key.

"It can reduce populations in areas, so around pools, around picnic pavilions, if we target there then it's going to reduce the number so that people still have pleasant experiences in the park," Ietaka said.

In addition to using high-powered vacuums, the department has previously used dogs trained to sniff out the eggs to detect the next wave of invading insects.

"The spotted lanternfly has become a nuisance - and a potential threat - in Westchester County," said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. "The steps and suggestions recommended by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation should be taken seriously and I urge the community to come together to help reduce this invasive."

Homeowners can kill the bugs by using power washers and vacuum cleaners as stomping them doesn't always work since they are quick.

ALSO READ | Weather or Not: The race to stop the spotted lanternfly's spread

They're colorful, they're pretty, and they're quick. But this insect has got to go. It's the invasive spotted lanternfly, and parts of New Jersey have been divided into quarantine zones to try to contain the bugs. Now they're popping up all across our area, even in Manhattan.


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