This is why the invasion of spot lights in NYC is so bad

These sex-crazed bugs don’t sound!

Entomologists and residents said Wednesday that the Big Apple’s spotted lanternfly invasion is getting worse — more visible as the plant-destroying pest’s mating season accelerates in urban jungles.

Jessica Ware, associate curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, said the invasive insects, which destroy everything from fruit trees to vineyards to vegetable gardens, have grown and grown and are taking over the city.

In New York, the number of invasive spotted lanternflies has increased as the insect’s mating season begins.
Christopher Sadowski

“People are seeing them in large numbers,” Ware told The Post. “They spin, jump and slide. August is a busy time for them; they mate and lay eggs before winter arrives and are particularly active at this time of year.

By late August, horndog beetles, native to China and Southeast Asia and with black spots and gray wings, grow larger and redder in color, making them more visible in their hot pursuit.

According to Ware and other experts, voluptuous lanterns hunt for love on the windowsills of glittering Manhattan skyscrapers, lie on wooden telephone poles and roam Central Park.

The insects become larger and brighter in late August.
The insects become larger and brighter in late August.
Christopher Sadowski

Jacob Leeser of Cornell University’s NYS Integrated Pest Management Program said reports of the insects have spiked in the city in recent weeks.

“Reports have increased significantly over the past month as adults mature, as they are larger and more active than the nymph stages of the life cycle,” Leeser told The Post. “The biggest concern is moving them to other areas where they haven’t been established yet.”

New Yorkers began crushing the small pests on the advice of officials who recommended killing them to save the region’s crops.

Outside Central Rock Gym on the Upper West Side, six crushed lanterns lay dead on the sidewalk Wednesday — and workers inside said they were taking no prisoners.

“In the last few days [I’ve killed] maybe 10,” said Jenna Tseng, a 21-year-old employee of a gym near West 61st Street in the West End. “We all see them often and we step on them often. We used to joke that we had to keep a running schedule.”

“I killed someone outside of Starbucks this morning,” he said. “I don’t feel so bad. They are invasive. They are kind of rude. There are a ton of them. Not good for the environment. They do not have complex thoughts and feelings. It was a victory for me.”

Donna Matthews, a 56-year-old postal worker who lives in the neighborhood, said the bugs at work have overwhelmed her.

“Yesterday I screamed when they flew everywhere near me. “I was screaming, ‘Oh my God,'” she says.

Spotted lantern flies are a major threat to native plants in the area.
Spotted lanterns are a major threat to native plants in the area.
Heide Estes via AP

“There’s a lot around this 400 building in particular,” he said, pointing to 400 West 61st St., a skyscraper with reflective windows.

“You don’t see any of that in projects. I deliver a lot to projects and try to understand why,” he said. “Maybe the rats are eating them.”

New York City’s role as a major port, along with the bugs’ steady diet of Trees of Paradise and other plants found in Central Park, make the city an ideal breeding ground for the bugs, experts say.

Senator Chuck Schumer has asked for $22 million in federal funds to end the occupation in New York.
Senator Chuck Schumer has asked for $22 million in federal funds to end the occupation in New York.

Inch-long flies have decimated trees on Staten Island’s protected Greenbelt Nature Trails, according to the Staten Island Advance, which has photos showing the pests on trees and trail markers.

They have been seen en masse in parts of New Jersey, including Newark and Jersey City, officials said.

“This is just the beginning of their invasion,” Ware said.

Spotted lanternflies, which first appeared in New York in 2020, are a threat to native plants and crops in the state, including vineyards, hops, apple and maple trees, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture.

Bugs have been reported in at least a dozen states, including as far west as Indiana and as far south as North Carolina, according to Cornell University researchers.

Earlier this month, Sen. Chuck Schumer said he wanted to solve the state’s spotty lantern problem with the help of an additional $22 million in federal funds.

Other officials in the northeast this week raised the alarm against the winged intruders, urging people to kill them.

“Kill it! Crush it, shred it…just get rid of it,” the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said in its Spotted Lantern Fly Alert. “They’re called bad bugs for a reason, don’t let them take over your next county.”


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