In all honesty, the spotted lanternfly didn’t really ‘go away’ nor is it ‘back’. It however is birthing more of its own in egg masses, and then nymphs are emerging and growing; so therefore now it is an ever-growing problem. This is not just for trees like fruit and hardwoods, but also for gardeners of vegetable plots and flower gardens. It is hard to enjoy your backyard when it is crowded with big unwanted, damaging pests. The spotted lanternfly (SLF) is nondiscriminatory and pretty aggressive when it comes to getting its sap sucking pincers into things.
With its pincers the spotted lanternfly feeds on woody plants, sucking out sap and leaving behind honeydew, a sticky, sugary liquid that encourages the growth of black sooty mold on any surfaces it covers. While the sooty mold is harmless to people, it can damage plants and increases the likelihood of other insects damaging the plant or tree as well.
The advantage people have is that the spotted lanternfly is not a subtle pest.
- This is a big insect about an inch long and colorful with red, white, and black markings.
- The spotted lanternfly is a plant jumper more than a flyer.
- Even in the nymph stages the markings are obvious black with white spots.
Crushing either the nymphs or the adult SLF is an efficient deterrent. That said, they can be quick. But they do need to land sometime. Another deterrent is banding your trees with sticky tape about four feet off the ground, make sure it is tight to the tree so the spotted lanternfly cannot get underneath. Remember to place mesh or chicken wire over the banding as you only want to catch bugs not birds. Change the tape every other week.
Even better for people is when the temperatures cool and the spotted lanternfly (SLF) egg masses appear.
- These egg masses are attached to outside items like outdoor furniture, trees, and wood piles or your car.
- Egg sacks look like mud smears and are grayish brown.
- Egg sacks are present from late September to May.
- The masses can be scrapped off with a knife or credit card and placed in a plastic bag with hand sanitizer which kills them.
One of the main issues with the spotted lanternfly is that this Asian pest does not have natural predators here. Praying mantises will eat them as will some spiders. Birds though do not seem to enjoy the taste of them. Various colleges as well as government agriculture agencies are working on a viable plan to reduce or eliminate the threat of this pest.
In the meantime, crush them as you can. Make a game out of it with the children. Keep an eye out at twilight, one the times they are most active. Spray with dish soap. And if nothing else work toward keeping the numbers down until a spotted lanternfly predator can be found.