City officials are urging New Yorkers to kill the spotted lanternfly on the spot to help control the spread of the invasive species.
"Harming our city's wildlife is broadly prohibited, but in an effort to slow the spread of this troublesome species, the current guidance remains: if you see a spotted lanternfly, please squish and dispose of this invasive pest," the city's parks department said in a statement.
The spotted lanternfly is native to Asia and was first documented in the U.S. in 2014. The species was first spotted in the city in July of 2020, according to the city's parks department.
The small, black, gray red and yellow tick-like creatures are about an inch long and have spots.
The pests are a threat to many agricultural crops, including walnuts, grapes, hops, apples, blueberries and stone fruits, according to city officials. They can potentially harm trees, but cannot hurt humans and pets.
City Councilman Joe Borelli, who represents parts of Staten Island, has received "an abundance of calls and messages from residents regarding the lanternflies," he told NY1.
Borelli is calling on city officials to help deal with the issue. He sent a letter to the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and parks department, asking them to educate the public and take action to fight next year's growth cycle.
"To date, there has not been much more instruction to residents beside calling on residents to kill [lanternflies] on site. While many people are willing to play bounty hunter and lend a foot to the cause, they are greatly out numbered," Borelli said. "Reducing this invasive species is not an overnight fix, but something should be done in a responsible and calculated way to ensure success."
Borelli also sponsored a free trap-building workshop in Staten Island's Conference House Park on Saturday.