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You can play a role in squashing invasive pests. Sometimes literally

close up shot of spotted lanternfly
Photo provided
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
A spotted lanternfly adult at rest, in profile. Note the wings are held tent-like over the back of the insect.

Spring is here, and that means bugs.

The United States Department of Agriculture is asking the public to look for, and report emerging invasive insects, so-called "hungry pests."

While most insect species are beneficial, some newer arrivals – like the spotted lanternfly and box tree moth – are invasive to New York, and threaten plants, trees and ecosystems.

Van Pichler, executive director of emergency and domestic programs for USDA, says people make it possible for invasive bugs to spread.

"Climate change has increased the level of plant pest infestations and disease infection, which allows these pests to produce more generations each year,” while also increasing the range in which they can live, she says.

And we carry them with us when we travel, too. "These pests are natural hitchhikers, meaning people – we - unintentionally move them to new areas,” Pichler says.

She also says we have a responsibility to take steps to control them.

To prevent the spreading of invasives, check your vehicle, yourself and outdoor gear for any egg masses, insects or other signs of infestation before travelling to other areas. And be sure not to move untreated firewood to new places because it’s a carrier for certain wood boring pests.

It’s important to report sightings of tree moth infested Boxwood plants to the USDA and state agencies like the agriculture department of the NY Department of Environmental Conservation. Pichler says if left untreated, Boxwoods will die in a year from tree moths.

And the hands-on approach works too. “In some cases, in New York, with spotted lantern fly, you want to just squash and kill them,” Pichler says.

The USDA maintains a website with tips about invasive species in New York at

Alex Crichton is host of All Things Considered on WXXI-FM 105.9/AM 1370. Alex delivers local news, weather and traffic reports beginning at 4 p.m. each weekday.