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While New Yorkers have been enjoying the summer, they’ve been joined by an unwelcome guest. Yes, folks, the dreaded Spotted Lanternfly is back — and sightings of the striking, invasive insect have exploded around town.

Spotted Lanternflies
Spotted Lanternflies are your unwelcome summer dinner companions. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The Lycorma delicatula, known colloquially as the Spotted Lanternfly, was first identified in the US in 2014 and has since become an unwelcome yearly summer visitor across the East Coast, including New York City — where, like many of us transplants, they seem to have decided to stay

Despite its butterfly-like appearance, the insect is considered a threat to crops, in particular, walnut, grapes, hops, apples, blueberries and stone fruit plants. The Parks Department has asked New Yorkers to join in on the fight, adding more urgency to previous public service missives: “Harming our city’s wildlife is prohibited, but in an effort to slow the spread of this troublesome species, we are putting out a one-time call: if you see a Spotted Lanternfly, please squish and dispose of this invasive pest.”  So what’s the situation in Hell’s Kitchen? W42ST asked readers for real-time reports. 

Anecdotal sightings appeared to be up in the neighborhood and all over the city, where reader Ava Raiin said that there are “more than last summer” and reader Ruby added, “They’re all over the place!” Several readers pointed to Hudson Yards and W43rd and W44th Streets as hotspots, with others reporting a noticeable increase in bug numbers. 

Commented reader Chris: “As opposed to seeing ONE on our balcony the entire last summer, we see at least a dozen a day. Very alarming!” Jenny added, “Saw probably five all of last summer, and now see 10-20 a day on my Harlem terrace.” 

Hell’s Kitchen local Marci saw one on the 15th floor window of her apartment and has noticed them in abundance on the West Side. “Over by Gotham there are tons,” she said, adding that there are “a bunch that people have been stepping on.” 

Reader Iva Nka found them socializing all the way up on the 63rd balcony ledge of her high rise, while reader Lara Weinberg documented an insect in the lobby of her Upper West Side building. Miguel spotted a deceased bug on 23rd and Madison, while another reader alerted us that they were frequently popping up at the MoMa garden terrace. 

A spotted lanternfly that met its timely end. Photo supplied by reader Miguel

While some pests have been too quick to nab, some locals are becoming well-practiced at vanquishing the insects. Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association President Aleta LaFargue and MP summer program participant Max have encountered hordes of the Spotted Lanternfly in the plaza’s playground, where Max has become “our in-house lanternfly exterminator,” said LaFargue. “We’ve been smashing them for the last few weeks — he’s taken out eight today alone!”  

Urban ecologist Marielle Anzelone warned the New York Times that individual action “is not going to get us there,” in the wider fight against the invasive species, but she added, “Maybe individual action is a way of pulling people in.” 

As for the battle of the bugs in Midtown, we here at W42ST have deemed that every little bit helps — if you see a Spotted Lanternfly, do not hesitate to squish it on sight! 

Spotted Lanternfly Life Cycle

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  1. They have been in Staten Island for a longest time and no one cares. We called everywhere but Boone cares anymore .

  2. Bravo Max!! You are our hero. I actually saw one in the 3rd instar stage on the inside of our window in Manhattan Plaza on the 13th floor — I didn’t know what it was — and since we have had so many Latern Flies on our balcony, I wacked this thing just in case it was related! Thanks for educating me! I am on guard!

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