WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said New York has a bug problem and he’s not referring to spiders or bed bugs, but rather a tiny pest called the “spotted lanternfly”. This insect could devastate New York’s wine industry.  

New York's wine industry brings in more than six billion dollars each year. It provides thousands of jobs and tourists are eager to sip a nice glass of Riesling or any other local specialty from wineries all over the state, including the Southern Tier. However, a tiny pest, known as the “spotted lanternfly”, threatens the industry.  

“It’s just a matter of time,” said Sam Filler with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. Filler adds so far, the infestation hasn’t hit New York’s major wine grape growing regions yet but there’s been sightings all over, including the Southern Tier.  

“It's definitely a concern because the experience of Pennsylvania spotted lanternfly totally decimated vineyards that had to be replanted and it’s not an inexpensive proposition,” said Filler. “It’s also a threat not just to the wine industry but you know the juice grape industry is really big in New York as well, so there’s a lot of concord grape growers in western New York, especially in Chautauqua County so there’s over 20-thousand acres of grapes planted there and those are definitely more threatened than some of the wine grape areas of the state because they share multiple borders with Pennsylvania where the infestation has been really bad.”  

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is urging the USDA to use roughly 200-million in a specialty crop pests program to bolster the state’s efforts to prevent the insect from spreading. He’s also asking for an extra 22-million in the upcoming federal budget to deal with invasive pests like the spotted lanternfly.  

For New York’s grape producers, seeing this insect is not a welcomed sight.  

“They really have a lot to lose if spotted lantern flies show up and you know, devastate their vineyards,” said Filler.  

The state is already working hard to educate grape growers and producers on keeping that insect out of their vineyards. The state is also asking people if you spot it to report it to the state and even, kill it.