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How To Get Rid of The Spotted Lanternfly

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The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in the U.S. in 2014 in Pennsylvania and as of 2022 has spread to 14 different states. It is considered an invasive species and threatens a wide range of tree species in the United States. Despite local quarantines banning the distribution of infected firewood, and efforts to eradicate this pest, the spotted lanternfly has proved difficult to contain.

What Does a Lanternfly Look Like?

The spotted lanternfly is native to China where it feeds on the sap of grapevines, apple trees, pines, and other species. They appear to be related to moths or flies but aren’t related to either. Lanternflies are actually plant hoppers that move from plant to plant. Adult lanternflies are about one inch long and a half-inch wide. They have two sets of wings. The front set is gray with black spots while the back wings are red and black with black spots. Its head and legs are both black, and it has a distinctive yellow abdomen with black bands across it.

What Kind of Damage Can Lanternflies Cause?

Lanternflies are leafhoppers which means they move from one plant to the next without flying long distances. When they do move to another location, the swarm can be thick enough to block out the sun. In large numbers, they can completely cover a tree from top to bottom and cause considerable damage to and even kill over 70 different species including:

  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Hops
  • Maple Trees
  • Nectarines
  • Oak Trees
  • Peaches
  • Pine Trees
  • Plums
  • Poplar Trees
  • Sycamore Trees
  • Walnut Trees
  • Willow Trees

Both adults and nymphs can damage trees when they feed on the sap from stems and leaves. Affected plants will slowly decline and eventually die due to decreased photosynthesis. But killing trees isn’t the only problem these invasive pests cause. When a spotted lanternfly feeds, it excretes a waste product called honeydew. Honeydew is harmless on its own but it can attract ants, wasps, and other insects.

Signs of Spotted Lanternflies

For the sake of your trees, it is important that you routinely check up on your trees and inspect them for lanternfly infestations. If you spot the signs sooner, you may be able to save the tree. Here are some of the common signs of spotted lanternfly activity:

  • Plants that ooze or weep sap.
  • A Buildup of honeydew on plants and on the ground.
  • Sooty mold on infested plants.
  • Increased bee, ant, and wasp activity due to exposed sap and honeydew.
  • Nymphs or adult insects on the tree.
  • Muddy-gray egg masses on the tree or other flat surfaces.

How To Control The Spotted Lanternfly?

Spotted lanternflies are extremely attracted to the tree of heaven, a native Chinese species that they feed on before laying eggs. In order to protect other trees, these trees should be removed or thinned. As they get comfortable with our climate and ecosystems, the spotted lanternfly has adapted to feed and lay eggs on several species of trees and plants. Thankfully there are some other ways to control the spotted lanternfly. 

  • Contact Insecticides: Contact insecticides should be used as a spot spray for clusters of Spotted Lanternfly adults or nymphs found on trees and other vegetation. Contact insecticides are not recommended for egg masses.
  • Dormant Oils: Dormant oil can be used to spot spray on egg masses and overwintering adults. Should only be used in the late winter or early spring before the buds start to break. 
  • Scrape-Off Eggs: Spotted lanternflies lay their egg casings on trees in late spring and early fall. You can control these pests by simply scrapping off the eggs with a knife. Place eggs in alcohol to kill them. 
  • Sticky Traps: Using a sticky band around the tree can help control spotted lanternflies as they climb up the tree to feed. These traps should be replaced every one or two weeks. 

Call The Pest Specialists At Superior Pest Elimination

To protect your trees and plants from spotted lanternflies or any other pests, the pros at Superior Pest Elimination have the skills and the experience to get it done. Contact us today for the best pest control services in New York and New Jersey!