I’m an entomologist by training. I’ve enjoyed watching and collecting insects since I was a kid.

In my new position as vegetable specialist, I’m always on the lookout for bugs — the good and the bad — in farmers’ fields.

In recent years, several destructive invasive pests have made their way to the Northeast.


One new important insect to look out for this year is the spotted lanternfly. The lanternfly’s name is a little deceiving.

It’s actually neither a fly nor a lightening bug. It’s a type of leafhopper.

Spotted lanternflies have been positively identified in five counties in New York as of last fall, but not yet in Clinton and Essex.

One aspect of this pest that makes it so troublesome is that it feeds on many different crops, including apples, grapes, hops, and tree of heaven, maple, oak and willow trees.

Oozing sap from trunks and stems and curled leaves are signs of spotted lanternfly damage.

Another troubling spotted lanternfly behavior is that they easily hitch rides on wood and even metal surfaces, including firewood, lawn furniture and the sides of trucks and train cars, allowing them to spread faster than they would on their own.

If you think you have spotted lanternfly on your property, take pictures and report it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation via email using this email address: spottedlanternfly@dec.ny.gov.


I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about swede midge, the topic of my PhD research. Swede midge is a tiny, invasive fly that came to Western New York from Canada, and is originally from Europe.

Adult flies are less than an eighth of an inch long, and lay their eggs on broccoli, cabbage, kale, and other related cruciferous crops.

After the eggs hatch, maggots feed on the center of the plant, causing scarring and twisting leaves.

With broccoli and cauliflower, you might get a plant that never produces a crown, instead having brown scars in the middle of the plant.

For the home gardener, a good option for swede midge management is to use insect exclusion netting with very small holes.

Because the midge overwinters in the ground, don’t plant your crucifers in the same spot as in the previous year. Otherwise, they will come up out of the ground and be trapped inside your net.


Leek moth is another pest making its way around Clinton and Essex counties.

Leek moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of leeks, onions and garlic and leave behind “windowpane” feeding damage and frass.

Removing infested crop debris from your garden at the end of the year and protecting crops with netting can help prevent damage from leek moth.

If you think you have swede midge or leek moth in your garden or on your farm and need advice, feel free to contact either myself or Jolene Wallace, Master Gardener Coordinator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County.

Elisabeth Hodgdon is the regional vegetable specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension – Clinton County. Reach her at eh528@cornell.edu or 518-561-7450.

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