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Westchester County using devices resembling proton packs from "Ghostbusters" to capture spotted lanternflies

Westchester Co. Parks Dept. using vacuums to get rid of spotted lanternflies
Westchester Co. Parks Dept. using vacuums to get rid of spotted lanternflies 02:26

YONKERS, N.Y. -- There's a call for the federal government to do more to stop the spread of spotted lanternflies. The insects are a threat to more than 70 species of trees, crops and other plants.

As CBS New York found out on Wednesday, Westchester County is already using technology to reduce the insect's population.

"The lanternfly is drinking the sap from the tree," said Juli Snooks of Westchester County Parks.

It was a feast for the invasive species and Snook was there to break up the party, with a tool that brings inevitable comparisons to the movie "Ghostbusters."

"The proton pack, the Ghostbusters vacuum," Snook said.

READ MORENew York state officials concerned about spotted lanternflies' impact on wine industry

Westchester County has a half-dozen of the vacuums and is buying more. Officials said they understand they can't eliminate the lanternfly population, but each one sucked into the chamber is one less headache.

"That lanternfly can no longer lay eggs over the wintering season. They can no longer reproduce. They can no longer harm that tree. So even though we may not be able to get every lanternfly, we are making an impact on the ecosystem, a positive impact," Snook said.

READ MOREWestchester County reveals new plan to battle spotted lanternflies

There were so many lanternflies on one tree in Tibbetts Brook Park, you could actually smell them. They give off a sickly, sweet, fermented scent caused by a waste byproduct after the lanternflies finish feasting.

The pests, originally from China, have now spread to 14 states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Some in Congress want the Department of Agriculture to prioritize research into stopping the spread, fearing the lanternflies will eventually devastate vineyards on the West Coast.

"They've killed some portions of vineyards in Pennsylvania, and we want to protect, especially out west, where they could expand to," said Brian Eshenaur of Cornell University.

Vineyards on Long Island remain on guard.

Back in Westchester, the bug busting will continue into the fall. 

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