If you haven’t been following along with the Spotted Lanterflies Threatening New Jersey, they primarily attack fruit and hardwood trees, as well as grape vines, and just a few months ago, breached the border of New Jersey and are now in Mercer, Hunterdon and Warren Counties. All three of those counties are under a Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine.

This autumn is the season for seeking the larvae of the spotted lanternfly. The female lanternfly attaches rows of larvae to the underside of siding, the bark of the Tree of Heaven, picnic benches, lawn furniture or almost anything outside, and covers the larvae with a grey film.  This film resembles dried mud patches as seen in the below pictures.

spotted lanternfly egg mass larvae

Adhering to the Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine

It is important to check and clear any outdoor object prior to throwing it out or removing it from your property. These larvae will ‘shelter in place’ until spring.  Walk around your yard regularly and check trees and anything else in your yard for gray masses. When a mass is found, use a stick, old credit card or a knife and scrape the larvae mass off and crush them.  You can also place the mass in a plastic bag filled with either vinegar or hand sanitizer.

It has been discovered that while few birds will eat the spotted lanternfly as they find the taste unpalatable; grasshoppers and some spiders will, however not in a quantity that helps in a great deal.

The Most Vulnerable Trees to the Spotted Lanternfly

The Tree of Heaven is a favorite of the Spotted Lanternfly, as are fruit trees and hard woods. If you have several of the Tree of Heaven on your property, you may want to think about getting rid of most of them, leaving a couple to be ‘host’ trees which can be treated with insecticides. The Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is not native and has an extensive root system that will steal nutrients from your native trees.  Be careful when cutting down this tree, crushing its leaves will often bring an odor similar to rotten peanut butter. Hiring a professional arborist to remove the trees may be in your best interest, as the cut trees are similar to weeds in that they are hard to get rid of for good. 

The newest weapon against the attack of spotted lanternfly is an insecticide that can be injected directly into the vascular system of the Tree of Heaven, with the poison in the tree’s system, when the spotted lanternfly feeds on it, it will die.  These poisons have the active ingredients dinotefuran or imidacloprid. They must be applied at the right time of year for trees to absorb it. Whether it is applied as a drench, by banding or injecting, follow the label instructions when handling this or any type of poison.

If you see what you believe to be a spotted lanternfly, take a picture of any life stage, (including the egg masses pictured left) and send it to SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov. Collect a specimen, if possible: Specimens of any life stage can be turned in to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s lab for verification. Report a site: If you can’t take a specimen or photograph, call the New Jersey Spotted Lanternfly Hotline at 1-833-223-2840 (1-833-BADBUG0) and leave a message detailing your sighting. If you find any spotted lanternflies, crush individual ones. Scrape trees where you find egg masses.