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It’s getting a little locust plague-esque here on the West Side, as swarms of spotted lanternflies sweep Hell’s Kitchen’s modern glass and steel towers en masse! We have some tips on how to get rid of the pests…

The revolving door entrance at Life Time SKY was closed after spotted lanternflies swarmed in the area this week. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Large swathes of the spotted menace — known as the Lycorma delicatula and rapidly spreading across the East Coast – converged at the entrance of Life Time SKY on W42nd between 11th and 12th Avenue, blocking patrons from entering the gym as equally dense colonies of bugs took over the exteriors of Waterline Square and VIA57 West. Researchers have suggested that the insects, which seem to prefer glass and metal-walled buildings over pre-war brick, are attracted to the warmth and height radiating from new construction materials. 

The NYC Parks Department told W42ST that they regularly attend spotted lanternfly interagency response meetings led by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to keep up to date on the latest infestation data and learn about any new management methods.

The spotted lanternflies seem to be attracted to the glass and steel towers of the West Side. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“At this time we are not considering any widespread treatment or tree removal strategies to control the SLF population,” a spokesperson from the Parks Department told us. “A citywide pesticide treatment program would be difficult to achieve given current permitting requirements, the prohibitive cost, and may also harm other wildlife and cause unintended damage to surrounding ecosystems. We will continue to follow our Tree Risk Management guidelines for the majority of infestations on City trees–pruning and removing trees as they pose a risk to the public.”

While it may be unlikely that the average New Yorker can vanquish a large-scale swarm of spotted lanternflies, there are ways to extinguish bugs across the Big Apple. In addition to the classic stomp/squish method, local ecological nonprofit H2O NYC and City Council Member Gale Brewer recently appeared on NY1 to instruct viewers how to fashion their own soccer-cone-mesh mass trap

Not the crafty type? Luckily, there are quite a few home-styled Big Apple exterminators sharing their tips and tricks for taking out the bugs without major equipment. 

Reader Danny told us that his game-changing tip for nabbing the buggers was to wait until they’ve jumped once before stepping in to squish them. He said: “You have a better shot of squishing them after that – and if you miss again, they used even more energy during that second jump as well.” 

According to the Montgomery Township in Somerset New Jersey (currently battling a significant outbreak), a simple apple cider vinegar or household white vinegar spray will kill the Spotted Lanternfly on contact – make sure to keep the vinegar undiluted for maximum effectiveness and avoid any plants that may be harmed by direct vinegar exposure.

Hate the smell of vinegar? Another homemade spray option is homemade dish soap and water – mix ¼ cup of liquid dish soap, a quart of water and a tablespoon of vegetable oil to form a brew that will suffocate the swarms. 

Diatomaceous Earth, known as a general pesticide (including against cockroaches, New Yorkers!!) is also effective in killing spotted lanternflies. Combine the DE with water or dust it in affected areas or directly on bugs. 

Budding green thumb? Plant the milkweed flower on your windowsill planter for a natural bait that’s poisonous to spotted lanternflies. 

Another option is to lay out sticky tape as a windowsill trap, though this method runs the risk of entrapping other creatures.

Ready to put that Dyson to use? Vacuuming the bugs, sealing and disposing the bag will do the trick. 

Want to keep things super simple? You can, of course, sweep them up into a dustpan, seal a bag, and dispose of them.

Whichever method you choose and as sightings rise local officials and environmental groups urge citizens not to give up the fight against the spotted lanternfly — wherever you find them.

Join the Conversation

16 Comments

  1. They also are attracked to every colorful dress I wear, landing on me all over Hell. 34th/11th ave., 8th/58th St., has massive swarms of them.

  2. Sky was covered in lantern flies. It is horrifying. You couldn’t even get in the revolving doors because they were covered. Volvo was covered. Lavender spray works really well. Lavender repells bugs. I spray my window with lavender air freshener from air wick. I like my windows opened. The lavender is great. Thanks to Triple Afor their information on repelling plants and sprays that keep mosquitoes away.

  3. I’m curious if anyone sees vinegar actually killing spotted lanternflies. I’ve read conflicting reports. From the website northjersey.com : “Less toxic concoctions like vinegar, oils or dish soap don’t seem to kill the bugs on contact, as some websites claim. It does chase them away or sometimes stuns them, making them more susceptible to being stomped.”

    1. Nope didnt work when I used it and I drowned em in the vinegar still got up and flew jumped away! Unless it takes several minutes to work its ineffective.. Do we really think something so easy would work! 😂

      1. Thanks – that’s what I was thinking too. If it were as easy as spraying vinegar or soap I don’t think the agriculture industry would be so concerned. But disinformation spreads fast on the Internet. It’s amazing how many official sites recommend these techniques that don’t actually work.

    2. I’ve noticed the same thing. After spraying them they jump away but you can usually go to where they landed and squish them since they seem disoriented

    3. I use 2 qt water
      1qt white vinager
      1 cup dawn dish soap
      1/2cup of peppermint oil
      Put in a spray ( purchased at home Depot)

      IT DOES KILL THEM! Have been using it all summer in queens to kill these lantern flies

  4. I live in NJ and I’ve been killing these insects using the insecticide RAID the one we all use to kill ants and roaches. I probably kill 5 to 10 of these insects everyday. Spray them 2 o 3 times and they will die in minutes. Hours after I sweep them up. So far this insecticide is being working out killing these horrible pests.

  5. I live on the 34th fl if a brick hi rise bldg on East 40th and 2nd Ave. I love sitting on my balcony..there they are walking up brick walls to the landscaped roof deck. Went up there and didn’t see them. Now I’m scared to go on my balcony. Tudor City has none and they have a beautiful landscaped park. Dawn.. vinegar.. nothing. They just keep crawling and I’m not letting my little dog out there. So stressed spending so much rent and being afraid.

  6. I kill about 200 to $300 a week at my job just by spraying simple soap and water from a spray gun and that works quicker than anything else it don’t harm the trees it doesn’t harm the plants

  7. Straight vinegar did not kill them at my house. They are all over my brick house n patio. We.use a small torch on my brick house and I have a super soaker water gun always filled with water and THE BLUE DAWN DISH LIQUId DISH Soap. Guaranteed kills them. I got 3 big supersoakers on my patio. The lantern flies do get aggressive flying in my hair n face and they don’t stop coming from all directions. We can’t sit outside n relax anymore. It’s disgusting. Then I pick them up with the proper scooper and blow them into the grass n driveway. I can’t tell the dead ones from the live ones when I’m blowing them because the live ones got sticky feet n they hold on to the patio but there wings r flapping up. My windows r all streaky from the supersoakers filled with water n dawn. It’s the most disgusting summer ever!! Don’t bother with pesticides on the hose cause that will not kill them. Those ORANGE DOTS all over our windows and cars us their poop!! Ugh. No peace and outdoor gatherings until the weather freezes. Then ill hang outdoor lots light the fireplace have a drink n relax. Ugh!

  8. Don’t you wonder …. that these lanternflies are Bugs. They’re not a animal or onother kind of species. They’re bugs!! So I can’t help saying why doesnt bug repellent and bug killer kill them or repell them?I’ve tried and used it all. Only thing that works is Dawn liquid dish soap and water in my supersoaker water guns I got on amazon. The agriculture and our exterminators are working very hard to save our produce we love. I have woods n lots of trees surrounding my house in edison nj n there’s lots of ticks n snakes, deer n sometimes we see the fox. I won’t and don’t go in to wrap those overgrown trees n weeds. My neighbors n I haven’t seen any butterflies or lightning bugs this summer. Thats weird. These bugs are so gross and their orange poop dots are all over our windows and cars. What’s next!!

  9. Leave them alone their “invasiveness” is a myth spread because they are from Asia there are only two species of trees/plants they go after and we dont have many here so leave them alone they’re friendly and pretty

  10. Just dealt with 7+ in the Bronx on east 161st. It was my first time seeing them as I am not from the city. 7+ seems like a lot. They flew on my friend. They are quick but after a jump you can get them but they will go on walls which means squishing is harder. This invasive species needs to go… we are the big apple and they hurt apples/agriculture/trees. Prices are already high we do not need them higher so a new bug can eat and bother us. If you see it stomp on it asap. Not sure vinegar/soap will do what they say maybe it will stun it? Pesticides like raid seem like a good idea but we need the city to do something. The NY should give a tax break for 1 can of raid to help with this problem/ various bug problems and also hire people to get rid of them. Report it if you see it or kill it.

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