Vineyards and apple orchards threatened by the spotted lanternfly

VICTOR, NY (WHEC) – The spotted lanternfly tastes great when it comes to wine, but state leaders and local wineries are trying to stop these invasive insects from destroying our local grape crops.

News10NBC spoke to Song Hill Winery owner Victor about his concerns about the impact these insects may have on the business.

Besides grapes, apple orchards are also a favorite place for these insects. This has been a potential problem for the past few years, and a major infestation is inevitable.

“We always try to be careful with all pests. This one, in particular, seems to really like the vines and is very high risk,” owner Conor Gallagher said.

Every day, he checks his prized grapes for signs of the spotted lanternfly. These pests have destroyed crops all along the east coast and are now heading west.

“They suck the sap out of the vines, and they weaken them, and so you know they go dormant through the winter, they can’t recover, and I know these are vineyards in Pennsylvania that have lost 90% of the harvests,” Gallagher said.

He says this type of loss can bankrupt a wine business.

“Like beer where you run out of beer, you make a new batch. We get hit every year. We have a chance of getting a crop, and losing 90% of a crop would be absolutely devastating,” Gallagher said.

State agriculture commissioner Richard Ball said spotted lanternflies have been known to hitchhike from one area to another.

“He will hitchhike on the bumper of a car. He will hitch a ride on a Christmas tree imported from another state. Bedding plants, nursery stock, etc. said Ball.

It also tells us a proactive state step to help keep these pests out of our state.

“We have banned the number of vehicles entering without inspection. Making sure we get the proper documentation, especially from New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” Ball said.

Right now, it’s a pure calculation of the loss Gallagher may suffer to stay afloat in the event of an infestation in his basement.

“It’s a bit more of a concern than winter injury because you can prune around winter injury. It seems to destroy all the vines, but yeah, 10%, even 20%, 30 would be manageable, but anywhere beyond that , and it gets pretty critical,” Gallagher said.

Spotted lanternflies were first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014. It is believed that some landscaping stones imported into America were infested with the eggs of this insect.

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