September may be upon us, but based on the many sightings around town it’s still the summer of the spotted lanternfly. As the invasive insects increase their infestation, local organizations and leaders have devised a new, somewhat MacGyver-like strategy for exterminating the bugs without squishing them. 

Spotted Lanternfly
A spotted lanternfly hanging out on a window in Hell’s Kitchen yesterday. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Environmental educational nonprofit NYC H2O and City Council Member Gale Brewer appeared on NY1 Wednesday morning to show New Yorkers how to fashion their own makeshift tree traps that contain the spotted lanternfly until it runs out of food and dies. The organization hosted an event over the weekend to instruct and assist locals in making and installing traps around town. 

Fashioned from a soccer cone and a small half-domed cone, mesh wiring, a ruler, staples and a plastic ziplock, the trap is meant to ensnare unsuspecting climbing lanternflies into a dead-end street. “They get stuck and they die,” said Matt Malina of NYC H2O. “They run out of food sources.” Intrepid exterminators can purchase the supplies at their local hardware stores, with a full video trap tutorial available on NYC H2O’s YouTube channel.

YouTube video

Despite pleas from the NYC Parks Department and State Department of Agriculture for New Yorkers to squish the spotted lanternfly on sight, the invasive species — a danger to walnut, grapes, hops, apples, blueberries and stone fruit plants — seem only to have multiplied over the summer. 

“They are everywhere, all through 57th Street, 45th Street and Riverside Park,” Brewer told NY1, as locals clocked swarms of spotted lanternflies converging on Manhattan Plaza and the glassy towers of Waterline Square. While some have ardently taken up the mission of squishing the creatures on sight, hosting lanternfly-squishing pub crawls and public events, other New Yorkers have conscientiously objected to killing the butterfly-reminiscent bugs. 

Some people have decided to distinguish between which New York City pests they will and won’t squish. In a profile for the New York Times, software developer Jody Smith declared himself “vegan, yet not an absolutist: He will exterminate cockroaches in his apartment in Manhattan’s Union Square and would support farmers protecting their crops, he said. But the state-endorsed bloodlust when it comes to lanternflies, and the sense that they are disposable, seemed like overkill to him.” 

New Yorkers may be reluctant to kill the aesthetically-pleasing spotted lanternfly but combating the threat of crop degradation is equally sustainable, Director of Plant Industry for the Department of Agriculture and Markets Chris Logue told The Times: “We can understand the hesitancy to kill the spotted lanternfly, which appear colorful and harmless. However, the damage this invasive species can do in harming important crops and impacting our food system is real. We just can’t take the chance.”

Spotted Lanternfly squished
There is now an alternative to squashing a spotted lanternfly. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Back on NY1, Malina and Brewer touted the effectiveness of their homemade solutions, citing recent body counts from their trap missions. “We caught 25 in an hour at a park in Staten Island,” said Malina. Get your cones out!

Join the Conversation


  1. So make them die a slow death from heat & starvation vs a fast death by stepping on them? I concede they are dangerous to the trees but they are still living things. Just step on them and make it fast.

  2. Well, I think the slow death/starvation is sad. A quick death would be better. However, is there any research being done to develop a safe and good way to exterminate these bugs? I would hope so.

  3. Squashing lantern flies with your foot/shoe or swatter isn’t as easy as you think, they do move. Protect your yard or house with a Bug Gun. It’s the answer for both those who dont want to set up a slow death trap and for those who dont want to mess up their shoes with bug juice. I got my wife the (Bug A Salt) from amazon its a shotgun style air gun. Easy to use fill it with table salt, one pump with air, aim and take out that varmint
    clean up with a paper towel. Now shes a sniper from 3 feet away. Bug guns are great for those who freak over spiders, flys, ants, beattles and Lantern Flies…
    Happy Hunting!

  4. This is good advise.i also have a spray gun.but I have fill up with vinegar in a spray bottle.and it sure works.i also have the spray for flying insects which works too.but u actually need alot of vinegar to kill them cause they do not die easy.i live in staten island and they are all over my so terrifi of them that I cannot come out to my feel that I’m a prisoner of my own home.

    1. I live in pa and this summer I could not sit out side or swim I use the vinegar kills a lots but I have the wood in the back of me so they are 100.00 a day all over

  5. One liter water with a teaspoon dish soap (preferably ajax) and a teaspoon of either peppermint, eucalyptus or neem oil will stun them, allowing a quick kill

  6. I sprayed one qith a combination of dish washing liquid and white vinegar in water and he was stunned so bad he couldn’t fly and i mashed it with the rubber bottom of my walking cane.

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