Spotted Lanternfly on the Horizon

What Homeowners Can DO

If last year you found yourself stomping and chasing red, black and white winged planthoppers, this year will be worse.

Since first being discovered in 2014, the spotted lanternfly (SLF) has marched across Pennsylvania and has been in NJ since last year. The SLF adults do die in the winter, however its larvae overwinters, and spring is coming. This invasive pest from Asia has stages:

  • Egg masses – Masses look like mud patches.
  • Early nymph stage- These are about a quarter of an inch in size, black with white dots
  • Late nymph stage- These are about a half an inch black with red and white dots.
  • Adult stage: One inch long, white and black with red.

While they have wings and can fly, they often will jump from place to place. This is where the stomping comes in. The problem with the spotted lanternfly is multi-fold, they have no natural enemies and they disrupt the food supply to trees using a piercing mouth part that taps into a tree like a straw.

The spotted lanternfly also secretes a sugary water called honeydew that allows the growth of a sooty black mold. All this damages the tree.

Helpful Enemies of the Spotted Lantern Fly

While they have no true native enemy, a few have no problem eating the spotted lanternfly, they just aren’t eating enough of them.

  • Praying Mantis
  • The gypsy moth parasitoid. (Originally introduced in the early 1900s to help with controlling the gypsy moth by laying its eggs in the eggs of the gypsy moth.
  • Tiny Wasp (It has been discovered that this tiny wasp does the same thing as the gypsy moth parasitoid to the egg masses of the spotted lanternfly.
  • Some spiders 

What can homeowners do about the Spotted Lanternfly?

Be Aware and Proactive! 

  • Check your property: examine your trees for anything that looks like a mud spot. Check:
    • woodpiles
    • cement outdoor walls
    • outdoor furniture
    • firepits
    • garage walls

If found, use a plastic or metal scraper to pull it off and deposit in a plastic container mostly filled with vinegar, alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Band and cage trees – When nymphs hatch, they walk up the tree to feed on the softer new growth of the plant. You can wrap the trunks in sticky tape. Although any tree can be banded, it is better to do it on trees likely to have infestation, a tree of life, fruit or hardwood tree. Sticky tape may be purchased online or from a garden center. You can use thumbtacks or double-sided tape to secure, though tacks can leave bark vulnerable to other problems.  As both birds and small animal like chipmunks or squirrels can get stuck to the tape, wrap the banding in chicken wire. Remember to check the trees and change the banding, replacing it every couple of weeks.

tree of heaven - favorite host of lanternfly

Remove any Trees of Heaven: This is a tree that the spotted lanternfly is attracted to as well as being an invasive species itself. It has an extensive root system and sends out a distinct odor. You will need to hire a tree removal company to totally get rid of it, as there are many shoots in its extensive root system.

Applications of pesticides: There are only certain formulations that work on the Spotted Lanternfly  Although it might be tempting to use a Do-It-Yourself method, for the safety not only of your property but your family, pets and friends, hire the experts at Precision Tree if thinking of applying pesticides to your trees. There are several methods of applying pesticides and tree service experts can decide which would be most beneficial.