These sex-crazy critters don’t buzz away!
The spotted lanternfly’s invasion of the Big Apple is getting worse — with more sightings of the plant-destroying pests as their mating season picks up in the urban jungle, entomologists and residents said Wednesday.
The invasive insects — which devastate everything from fruit trees to grapevines and vegetable gardens — have grown into adults and are swarming the city in an attempt to have sex, said Jessica Ware, an associate curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.
“People are noticing them in large numbers,” Ware told The Post. “They flutter around, jump and slide. August is a busy time for them; they mate and lay eggs before winter comes and are particularly active this time of year.”
In late August, the horndog bugs — which are native to China and Southeast Asia and bear black spots and gray wings — have grown larger and redder in color, making them more visible on their sultry pursuits.
The lusty lanternflies have been spotted chasing love on the windowsills of gleaming Manhattan skyscrapers, lounging on wooden telephone poles and prowling Central Park in search of hookups, Ware and other experts said.
Jacob Leeser, of Cornell University’s NYS Integrated Pest Management Program, said reports of the city’s insects have skyrocketed in recent weeks.
“The reports have increased significantly in the past month as the adults have matured, as they are larger and more active than the nymphal stages of the life cycle,” Leeser told The Post. “The biggest concern is transporting them to other areas where they are not yet established.”
New Yorkers have begun crushing the small pests on the advice of officials, who recommend killing them to save crops in the region.
Outside Central Rock Gym on the Upper West Side, six crushed lantern flies lay dead on the sidewalk on Wednesday — and workers inside said they are not taking any prisoners.
“The past few days [I’ve killed] maybe 10,” said Jenna Tseng, 21-year-old gym worker on West End Avenue near West 61st Street. “We all see them so often and stomp them so often. We joked that we had to keep a running count.”
“I killed one at Starbucks this morning,” she said. “I don’t feel that bad at all. They are invasive. They are quite dirty. There are many. It’s not good for the environment. They do not have complex thoughts and feelings. For me it was a win.”
Donna Matthews, a 56-year-old postal worker in the area, said she was inundated with the bugs at work.
“Yesterday I was screaming when they flew all over the place next to me. I yelled, ‘Oh my God,’ she said.
“There’s a lot, especially around this building 400,” she said, gesturing to 400 West 61st St, a skyscraper with reflective windows.
“You don’t see them in the projects. I contribute a lot to the projects and I’m trying to figure out why,” she said. “Maybe the rats eat them.”
New York City’s role as a major port, along with the steady diet of Trees of Heaven and other plants in Central Park, make the city an ideal breeding ground for the insects, experts say.
The inch-long flies have wreaked havoc on trees on Staten Island’s protected Greenbelt Nature trails, with photos of the pests swarming trees and trail markers, according to the Staten Island Advance.
And they have appeared 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 showed up in New York in 2020, pose a threat to native plants and crops in the state — including grapevines, hops, apple trees and maples, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture.
The 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 researchers at Cornell University.
Earlier this month, Senator Chuck Schumer said he wants to solve the state’s spotted lanternfly problem with the help of an additional $22 million in federal funds.
Other officials in the northeast this week sounded the alarm against the winged invaders, urging people to kill them.
“Kill it! Crush it, smash it… just go,” the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said in a Spotted Lanternfly Alert. “These aren’t called bad bugs for nothing, don’t let them take over your county next time. ”