If you live in the Northeast region of the United States, you have probably noticed the colorful red and black insects known as spotted lanternflies making themselves at home in your backyard.

For Pennsylvania residents, the arrival of these insects has been nothing short of worrisome, as spotted lanternflies are known to cause irreparable damage to agriculture and the environment.

If you spot a spotted lanternfly in your PA yard this summer, follow our tips for reporting, removing, and preventing these pests from doing even more damage.

Identifying a Spotted Lanternfly Infestation

Spotted lanternflies, also known as Christmas Tree bugs, are known for their spotted white or speckled black appearance, depending on their stage of development. The nymphs are either black or red with white dots spread across and hop from tree to tree with great agility.

Fully grown flies have gray wings with black spots on them, which makes them so easy to spot–no pun intended.

Aside from seeing spotted lanternflies around your property, there are several signs of an infestation to look out for. For example, you may notice a sticky buildup on plants or the ground underneath infested plants, as well as sooty mold. You may also notice that your plants are oozing and producing a strong fermented smell, which could be another sign of an infestation.

Impact on Agriculture and Environment

Spotted lanternflies are extremely harmful to agriculture and the environment as a whole for several different reasons. They are known to cause a lot of damage to trees, plants, and crops and also produce a substance called honeydew that encourages mold growth.

These insects also cause damage to fruit crops like apples and grapes, posing a serious threat to agriculture both locally and regionally.

Reporting a Spotted Lanternfly Sighting

If you see a spotted lanternfly, it is imperative that you promptly report it to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. You can do this either online or by calling 1-888-4BADFLY.

After making your report, it is advised that you kill the spotted lanternfly to prevent them from reproducing.

Quarantine and Control Measures

The Spotted Lanternfly Order of Quarantine and Treatment was implemented to prevent the spread of these invasive pests and protect Pennsylvania’s economy and quality of life for its residents. The quarantine simply means that any movement of materials that may be housing the insects is strictly prohibited. This includes logs, grapevines, packing materials, and nursery stock.

Prevention Tips

There are several measures you can take to prevent spotted lanternflies, including:

  • Control the Tree of Heaven- Spotted lanternflies are attracted to these invasive trees. Spraying the stumps of these trees with an herbicide can prevent more trees from regrowing.
  • Use Natural Solutions- Diatomaceous earth and neem oil can be used to kill spotted lanternflies without harming you or your loved ones.
  • Vinegar- Spraying vinegar directly onto spotted lanternflies will kill the insects on contact.
  • Remove the Eggs- Spotted lanternflies typically lay their eggs on trees, plant stems, walls, and other hard surfaces. Removing the eggs in the Fall and Winter can prevent future infestations.

How to Protect Trees and Plants

One of the best ways to protect your trees and plants from spotted lanternflies is by creating a wildlife barrier. To do this, wrap your trees and plants with sticky bands or duct tape and place a strip of window screening on top of the sticky band. When measuring how much window screening you need, be sure to use about three times more than the sticky bands.

When attaching the window screening, be sure to arrange it so that it does not stick to the sticky band beneath it. After your wildlife barrier is set up, remember to check on it often to ensure it works effectively.

Spotted lanternflies are a huge threat to the northeast, and it’s up to homeowners to deal with infestations accordingly. If you spot these insects in your yard, report it to the proper authorities, kill the bugs, and contact a pest control expert for additional assistance.

FAQs

How do I differentiate spotted lanternflies from other common insects?

While spotted lanternflies definitely have a unique appearance, there are a few other insects you may mistake them for. Spotted lanternflies may look similar to certain types of moths, such as the Easter Boxelder bug, as the two insects both boast a bright red color. Many people also mistake spotted lanternflies for gypsy moths due to their similar shapes.

However, it is important to be able to differentiate the spotted lanternfly from other types of common insects to determine the correct course of action if you spot one in your yard.

Are spotted lanternflies harmful to humans?

There are no dangers of spotted lanternflies to humans, as they do not bite, sting, or contain venom. However, spotted lanternflies harm trees and plants and can cause them to ooze, wilt, and die, causing widespread economic damage.

Where do spotted lanternflies originate?

Spotted lanternflies are native to China, India, and Vietnam but are thought to have made their way to the United States in 2012 on a stone shipment. The first sighting of an infestation was detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014, and the insects can now be found in 14 US states.

Are there any natural predators of spotted lanternflies?

There are several predators of the spotted lanternfly, including spiders, chickens, praying mantises, yellowjackets, garter snakes, and even koi fish. However, spotted lanternflies use their brightly-colored appearance to trick predators into believing they are poisonous and deter them from attacking.

 

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