You probably felt good smacking those lanternflies that landed on your patio and your car, fence railing, table, pool floatie and the dog. Remember though, you killed the slow ones, the ones that did not zig when you zagged, the ones that did not jump into tall grass on their third jump. You still can hone that stomping skill as the spotted lanternfly adults will be here till the hard frost. The males die, as do the females after depositing eggs, which will overwinter till spring.
Nature’s accidental helpers:
- Milkweed is a native plant the invasive spotted lanternfly is unaware is poisonous to them. The poisonous sap also slows them down, so they are much easier to catch and crush in your hand. The Common Milkweed is what they are attracted to, plant that. In addition, milkweed leaves are the only ones the monarch caterpillar can eat!
- Praying mantises will kill and eat them, as will assassin bugs. Yellow jackets appear to just be eating them after they die, but clean-up is still useful. Spiders will eat them when one is caught in the web.
- Several birds have gotten over their distaste for the spotted lanternfly, and have become avid eaters, including chickens, ducks, Carolina wrens, woodpeckers, and bluebirds.
And the non-accidental helper:
- A Chinese wasp, so tiny it is hard to see with the naked eye, has been brought over to help with the spotted lanternfly. This species of tiny wasps lay eggs inside baby spotted lanternflies, killing them. Of course, this wasp must be studied to make sure it only goes after the spotted lanternfly and not insects native to this country.
Fall and winter eradication:
The rest of the surviving female spotted lanternflies are now trying to find a place to put their eggs for overwintering; and now a quieter battle begins. Any egg sack that is scrapped off and destroyed now, is about 50 eggs less of spotted lanternflies to deal with in the spring.
An egg sack resembles a mud spot or grey putty-like smear on the trunk of a tree, branches, retaining walls, outdoor furniture, rocks or rock garden and unused vehicles. The size of the mass can vary, but it is typically about an inch long by 3/4 of an inch wide.
Steps for scraping egg sacks:
- Large plastic bag
- Filled with dish soap/hand sanitizer or alcohol
- A putty knife, credit card (expired), or a butter knife
- Carefully scrape the egg sack into the plastic bag and seal it
- Dispose of it in the outside trash container.
Remember to keep an eye out when you go hiking in the woods as well. A pocketknife and a boot to crush the sac allows for less nymphs in the spring, not only making spring and summer more pleasant but saving our hardwoods as well.