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Beautiful Spotted Lanternfly, a destructive insect

Adult Lanternfly

The lanternfly has been spotted in 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.

They are invasive; they are a sap feeding pest that can damage trees, agricultural crops and plants. Their most liked plant is the “tree of heaven” . This invasive tree grows on field edges and roadsides. It provides a readily available food source for them, allowing them to multiply and expand their invasive area. They feed in large numbers which can be a nuisance. At this time, it seems their impact is on grapes and other crops such as apples, walnut, oak and pine trees. They are of no danger to humans or pets; they do not bite or sting. The adult spotted lanternfly may be present from June through November.

Tree of heaven
Tree of heaven (blades)

The female adult will lay their eggs on any flat surface including trees, cars, grills and outdoor furniture. The female can lay up to 30 – 50 eggs; the eggs resemble a seed. The female will continue to lay eggs through the fall . All the adult spotted lanternflies will die off when a hard frost arrives. They have 1 cycle of life.

They will only survive the winter as an egg mass. Some eggs won’t make it to the spring due to predators. Their predators are praying mantises, chickens, garden spiders, gray catbirds, yellowjackets, wheel bugs, garter snakes, and koi fish.

Besides damaging crops, trees and plants they can also make a mess in your yard by excreting the sticky substance that causes the growth of black sooty mold.

Zoysia is safe from the spotted lanternfly. Zoysia grass has no sap in the blades. The spotted lanternfly likes to suck the sugary sap from its host. There has been no evidence of any destruction to Amazoy Meyer Zoysia grass plugs.

There is not a one-size-fits all approach to managing the spotted lanternfly. You can kill spotted lantern flies, by swatting or crushing them. However, they are quick jumpers and will move away quickly when threatened. Vinegar whether diluted with water or not, will kill the spotted lanternfly on contact, not diluting the vinegar will make it more effective. You may wish to try this recipe to rid of the spotted lanternfly: 1 cup vinegar apple cider or white household (your choice) 1 tablespoon salt and a small squirt of liquid soap or dish detergent like Dawn. Again, being careful to not overspray on any plant you care about. This recipe is also good for killing weeds.

Trying to eradicate, or at least reduce populations of, this invasive pest is critical for the health of the ecosystem.