What is the spotted lanternfly?
Where do spotted lanternflies come from?
Are lanternflies dangerous?
How to get rid of spotted lanternflies
Call a local pest control pro

What is the spotted lanternfly?

This bizarre-looking bug is an invasive species in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, showing up here in 2014 far from its native China. Since then, the species has grown rapidly across the region, becoming hazards to crops and local flora. Spotted lanternflies are particularly harmful to maple trees, nectarine trees, grapevines, cherry trees, almond trees, and apple trees. Their danger to the local ecosystem is also unchecked as they lack a natural predator in the area.

Where do they come from?

The spotted lanternfly is native to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India so you may be asking how it managed to cross an ocean and an entire continent to land in Pennsylvania. Though we may never know exactly how or when the pest got here, we know the lanternfly is an efficient hitchhiker and has been introduced to other non-native areas by way of materials in which they’ve laid eggs or are living inside (such as wood or stone). The pest was first confirmed in Berks County, PA in 2014 and has since spread out across the southeastern Pennsylvania region, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

A red spotted lanternfly nymph on a stem
Fourth-instar stage of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in mid-July (Bucks County, PA)

Are spotted lanternflies dangerous?

This depends on your definition of dangerous. The spotted lanternfly is incredibly harmful to local crops of fruits, nuts, and hops as well as local lumber trades. However, they are not known to bite humans or pets nor inject venom or poison, despite their wild coloring. They have, in the past, been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a topical treatment for swelling. But, ultimately, you don’t have to worry about one of these bugs leaving you with a rash of bites.

How do I get rid of spotted lanternflies?

First and foremost, if you see a spotted lanternfly you’re encouraged to destroy it. But, going around and getting rid of every individual bug you see isn’t an effective pest control strategy. Here are a few more sure options to tackle the threat

  • The lanternfly eggs are usually laid in October, which means pretty soon will be a prime time to prevent a new brood come next summer. Clusters of these eggs can be found along tree surfaces starting in the fall and all the way through May. If you come across a cluster of eggs, scrape them from the surface and into a double-lined garbage bag. You can also use hand sanitizer or alcohol to kill them.
  • You can utilize the Chinese sumac tree (also known as the tree of heaven) as a “trap” tree. Lanternflies need to take a meal from the tree before laying eggs. If you have one of these trees on your property wrap it in sticky material to capture lanternflies before they can lay eggs.
  • Any pesticide designed for use on trees can be utilized throughout the summer if you have a known infestation. But you may want to call an expert for this as some infestations require tree injection or bark sprays and not all pesticides are legal to use without permission.
Four black spotted lanternfly nymphs on a stem
Third-instar stage of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in early July on ‘Concord’ grape (Bucks County, PA)

The only way we tackle the threat of the spotted lanternfly is by being proactive and luckily eLocal is ready to help. Find a local pest control professional in your area if you’ve seen the spotted lanternfly.

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