Spotted lanternfly hatching season coming soon: What to do

April 01, 2019

The spotted lanternfly, an insect native to parts of China, Vietnam and India, is an invasive pest in the eastern states of the U.S. As a planthopper, it’s a major threat to the livelihood of the nursery, landscaping and timber industries, as well as damaging to many plants of agricultural importance, like orchards, grapes and hops.

The red-winged, spotted insect was first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014, and since then has spread to Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. In response, counties within these states have issued quarantines limiting the spread of objects that might carry the bugs or their egg clusters. Some states have even implemented voluntary tree banding programs to assist with the trapping of these insects after hatching.

The pests lay their eggs in masses of 30–50, usually on flat surfaces. They’re laid in rows, then covered with a waxy secretion that gives them the appearance of shiny mud. You can look for them on trees (especially under branches), rocks, outdoor furniture and even vehicles stored outdoors.

The insects begin life as black instar nymphs in late April and early May and molt to a red second stage a few weeks after hatching. Both nymph stages are spotted. By July, adults begin to appear. They begin laying eggs in September, continuing to late November or early December.

The egg masses can be scraped off and disposed of in a solution of alcohol, but tougher measures such as sticky traps and insecticides are better recourses for tackling hatched populations. Tree Philly recommends treating the spotted lanternfly’s favorite trees, like the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) with an appropriate trap or, if needed, insecticide.

Since spotted lanternflies are often found moving up and down on tree trunks, sticky traps or glue bands are placed around the tree trunk to capture these insects. This method can effectively destroy many flies without using insecticides.

The Catchmaster branded Giant Fly Trap Roll, sold by Neogen, is the perfect sticky band solution. To use it, you simply place the band around the trunk, about four feet from the bottom of a tree, secured with a push pin. You must ensure the band is snug against the tree, so insects cannot easily crawl underneath. Once the surface of the band is full of insects, you simply remove the band, discard and replace with another to continue capturing these insects.

The spotted lanternfly poses a warranted threat to agriculture crops as well as native and ornamental trees and plants. Due to their high reproduction rate and ability to travel on wood products and on vehicles, it’s important to quickly identify and treat for them.


Category: Agriculture, Food & Beverage, Insect Control