Spotted Lanternfly Management for Homeowners – Part One
Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, is a beautiful pest but don’t let looks fool you. It is destructive, dirty and prolific. Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive planthopper native to Asia that was first detected in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania. It feeds voraciously on more than 60 varieties of plants and trees. Spotted Lanternfly is capable of causing serious damage to its host, including oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling, and dieback. In addition to plant/tree damage, they excrete a sour smelling, sugary substance that encourages the growth of black sooty mold which can cover leaf surfaces and stunt growth.
If you think you have Spotted Lanternfly, do not panic! Spotted Lanternfly does not bite or sting but be aware that they are very mobile and management actions must be continuous to keep them controlled. There is no way to prevent SLF from moving onto your property and it has no natural predators in PA. Make sure the insect you are seeing is the Spotted Lanternfly and learn about its life cycle and habits.
Identification & Life Cycle
- NymphsMay-July: Young nymphs hatch in spring as small black bugs with white spots. After hatching and before reaching adulthood, Spotted Lanterfly goes through four nymph stages (⅛” to ½”). By early summer, they gain red markings.
- AdultsJuly-November: Spotted Lanternfly adults emerge in July and are active until winter. This is the most easily detectable stage because they are approximately 1” in size and highly mobile. Because adults jump more than fly, their wings are often closed.
- EggsSeptember-November: Adult female Spotted Lanterfly lay eggs in the fall. Egg masses are laid on tree trunks or just about any flat surface. Females hide the eggs under a secretion that looks like dirt or clay.
Steps of Spotted Lanternfly Management
- Stop the Spread – When you travel in and out of an infested zone from late fall to early spring, check your car and outdoor equipment for Spotted Lanternfly egg masses. During all other times of the year, check for nymphs and adults, and keep your windows rolled up when you park. Don’t store things or park under infested trees, and don’t move firewood.
- Egg Scraping – From September to May, walk around your property to check for egg masses on trees, cement blocks, rocks, and any other hard surface. If you find egg masses, you can scrape them off using a plastic card or putty knife. Scrape them into a bag or container and spray with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Egg masses can also be smashed or burned. Remember that some eggs will be laid at the tops of trees and may not be possible to reach.
- Tree Banding – When the nymphs first hatch, they will walk up the trees to feed on the softer new growth of the plant. Take advantage of this behavior by wrapping tree trunks in sticky duct tape and trapping the nymphs. To avoid the chance of bird or small animals getting caught, you can cage your sticky bands in wire wrapped around the tree. Check and change traps at least every other week or more often in highly infested areas.
- Kill ‘em When You See ‘em – Smushing the bugs is an effective method and is least harmful to the environment. If the flies are on a hard surface, fly swatters and wiffle ball bats work well. If you miss the first time, DON’T GIVE UP! Lanternflies jump vigorously the first time, not so much the second time, and then they lose energy. If you follow the bug, you will get it on the second or third try.
- Host Removal – Tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is an invasive plant but it is common in landscape plantings and along the sides of roads. This is the preferred host for Spotted Lanternfly and current management efforts are focused on removing this tree. These trees can get very tall, so seek the help of a tree care service if necessary. SLF nymphs can also feed on a large variety of plants, including many in your backyard. Since removing these is probably not an option, refer to the next section for further guidance.
- Chemical Control Strategies – Research is ongoing by Penn State University in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture to identify the insecticides that are most effective on Spotted Lanternfly while posing the least risk to humans, pets, beneficial insects, and the environment. When the lanternflies are in their younger nymph stages, GREENSKEEPER often uses an insecticide soil drench method. As the Lanternfly matures into an adult, a topical insecticide spray can be a more immediate and effective control.
- Fertilization – Spotted Lanternfly are intense feeders that suck the sap from trees. So ongoing fertilizing of infested trees by the GREENSKEEPER team is also important to promote healing and build strength.
Help Stop the Escalation of Spotted Lanternfly!
The Spotted Lanternfly is a prominent insect in many local landscapes. GREENSKEEPER’s SLF management program is designed to control them in every stage of their life cycle. Since the adults are flying insects and will fly in from surrounding areas, we will not be able to eradicate them. We can successfully minimize the number of adults that will occur later in the season.
Consider GREENSKEEPER’s certified pesticide services for the necessary insecticide treatments for your yard. Our skilled professionals have specialized training and equipment to treat trees and shrubs. Hiring our professionals will reduce your risk of pesticide exposure and save you valuable time. By limiting Spotted Lanternfly in the earlier stages of their lifecycle, we can reduce their numbers and reduce the damage they cause to your landscape! Click to contact us online or call 215-938-8440 and schedule a no-obligation consultation today.