By Dave Carlin

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s a new pest in New York City.

They’re called spotted lanternflies, and are very harmful to your plants.

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So what should you do if you see the invasive species?

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reports, they are hard to handle pests, and they’ve moved to Manhattan.

Spotted lanternflies are bugging waiter Alejandro Rivera.

“There have been like more and more of them,” Rivera said. “Usually they fly on your backs and You feel them walking over there and it’s disgusting.”

“It kind of looks like a moth closed, but you can see the red,” said Woodside resident Maureen Knightly.

They are not harmful to humans, but can wreck plant life, destroying agricultural crops including walnut, grapes, hops, apples and blueberries.

After first appearing in Pennsylvania, then New Jersey and parts of New York, but now in larger numbers in neighborhoods a hop, skip and jump from Central Park, including along 6th Avenue in the West 50s.

“I’ve been seeing them for the past week or two,” said Jeff Blume.

Blume, a building maintenance supervisor, sees them in midtown and at home in North Arlington, N.J.

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“I mean, if you want to go digging through there, there’s a lot of them in there,” he said.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Carlin said.

“They have quite a large host range,” said Dr. George Hamilton.

Hamilton is the chair of the entomology department at Rutgers University. He says it is believed spotted lanternflies hitchhiked to Pennsylvania from China in a shipment of stone. In China, they tend to get eaten by wasps. But not here.

Experts tell homeowners it is not necessary to pretreat your plants and trees, and wait until you see that you have a problem with these pests before you take action.

“Spraying all your trees, it’s an unwise use of insecticides,” Hamilton said. “They may not even come to your tree.”

“I have a good foot,” Knightly said.

“You’re going to stomp them if you see them?” Carlin asked.

“Absolutely,” Knightly said.

“Yeah, I’ve been hitting them, using this all day,” Blume said.

“The more we kill the better off we will be,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton says the best time to get rid of them is now, while the insects are adults and easier to spot. The laying of eggs starts in September, and that means baby ones that are tougher to find and kill.

If you spot one, you’re asked to kill it, then take pictures of the insect, egg masses or signs of infestation, and send it to the Department of Environmental Conservation. You’ll also have to note the location of where it was spotted.

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To report a spotted lanternfly to NY DEC, CLICK HERE. In New York City, CLICK HERE.

Dave Carlin