Growing Green: Be on the lookout for Spotted lanternfly
Put out a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) alert for the spotted lanternfly.
No, this is not a TV police drama, but continued vigilance is needed for the invasive spotted lanternfly. It has not been found outside of the six Berks County townships under quarantine (District, Pike, Earl, Hereford, Washington and Rockland) yet. But if it exists outside of that area, everyone wants to know.
The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), an invasive plant-hopper, was discovered in Berks County in 2014. This pest is native to China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and was introduced to Korea.
It attacks many hosts, including grapes, apples, pines, stone fruits and Tree of Heaven. It has the potential to greatly impact the grape, fruit tree and logging industries. Early detection is vital for the protection of Pennsylvania agriculture and businesses.
The spotted lanternfly is approximately one-inch long and one-half-inch wide. The forewing is gray with black spots and the wing tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in gray. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band partially separating. The legs and head are black. The abdomen is yellow with broad black bands.
In the fall, adults can be found primarily on all sizes of Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and grape (Vitis sp.), often in clumps of four to 18 or more. Adults may also be found congregating at the tree base near leaf litter. After hatching, nymphs will move off the Tree of Heaven and search out other hosts in the spring.
Early in the fall, the adults will congregate mainly on stems of Tree of Heaven and grape. Weeping wounds will leave a grayish or black trail along the trunk. Mold patches, appearing as large yellowish-white mats, may develop at the tree base. Feeding damage will attract yellow jackets and hornets, so caution is advised.
In late fall, search efforts should switch to location of egg masses. Adults lay egg masses on trees and nearby smooth surfaces, such as stones, outdoor furniture, vehicles and other structures. Newly-laid egg masses have a gray pitch-like covering over the eggs. Old egg masses appear as rows of 30 to 50 brownish seed-like deposits in four to seven columns on the trunk in a mass that is roughly one-inch long.
A photograph of any life stage (including egg masses) can be submitted for verification.
If you see egg masses, scrape the eggs off, double bag them, and throw them away. You can also place the eggs in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
If you see a suspicious insect, catch it and put it into alcohol to kill it or photograph it and contact the Lehigh County Extension Office or the Northampton County Extension Office.
"Growing Green" is contributed by Lehigh County Extension Office Staff and Master Gardeners. Lehigh County Extension Office, 610-391-9840; Northampton County Extension Office, 610-746-1970.