The Spotted Lanternfly has wreaked havoc on our agriculture since around 2014. While they have a unique look with their spotted red, black, and tan colored wings, they are a menace and a threat to our forests, crops, and trees. There has been no complete remedy for these creatures to date. However, there are ways to spot when they’re causing problems and prevent any further damage. Here’s what you need to know:
How does the Spotted Lanternfly do damage?
These bugs feed on the trees. They will suck the sap out of any stem or leaf. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tree or a shrub. Removing too much of the sap will cause the plant to die. On top of that, spotted lanternflies leave behind honeydew, which is a clear, sticky substance. This honeydew attracts other insects like wasps, ants, and even fungi to attack the already weakened tree.
Which trees are at risk?
When these bugs are nymphs or younger versions of the Spotted Lanternfly, it is when trees get hit the most. They enjoy apples, grapes, stone fruits, maple, willow, pine, poplar, and Tree of Heaven, also known as Ailanthus. When they are adults, they mainly feed on the Tree of Heaven.
What are some of the signs & symptoms?
- Dark streaks or weeping wounds appear on the bark
- Honeydew can be found at the base of the tree
- Black fungus or sooty mold shows up on top of the honeydew
- There is an increase in other bugs around the tree such as bees, wasps, and ants because of the sap and honeydew
- Nymphs or Adult Spotted Lanternflies are on the trees
- There are muddy grey masses on the tree or flat surfaces near the trees, such as benches, car hoods, and more. These are the eggs waiting to hatch in the late spring
What’s the best treatment?
- Remove the main tree that’s been consumed the most. This includes removing as many as the Ailanthus trees as possible. Even as adults, it’s the tree of choice.
- Remove any egg masses you see. Gently scrape off the mass with a knife, a plastic card, or anything else that’s flat. Seal it up in a plastic bag and trash it. As an extra precaution, you can put the eggs in rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
- Use an insecticide to get rid of the nymphs and adults. Depending on the population of the Spotted Lanternflies, you might need to consult with an arborist to determine which insecticide works best.