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Pest threatens local produce — grapes, hops, apples

As if the fight against the emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned beetles isn’t enough, now there’s a new threat to trees in the Finger Lakes region: the spotted lanternfly.

Along with threatening forests and neighborhoods, this insect sucks the sap out of trees the Finger Lakes needs for tourism and agriculture. More than 70 plant species send the spotted lanternfly into a feeding frenzy — including maples, apple trees, grape vines, and hops.

Native to China, India and Vietnam, the spotted lanternfly was spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014 — and it’s coming this way.

“It’s an amazing flyer,” said Jacob Young, district manager for the Rochester-area branch of Davey Tree Expert.

So far the insect hasn’t been reported in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. But a dead one was spotted last fall in Delaware County and it is suspected to have invaded the Albany area, Young said.

“It makes great leaps,” said Young, adding it could make it two or three counties over in no time.

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