Here’s how you can help prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive sap-feeding planthopper, first discovered in the United States in Berks County in 2014. Field observations indicate that the tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is an important host plant.
However, the spotted lanternfly is known to feed on a wide range of hosts, including wild and cultivated grapes, stone fruits, willow, and various hardwoods. This species is thought to be native to China, and has spread to other Asian countries.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture web site, the following counties are under quarantine for Spotted Lanternfly: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.
Surveys are underway to determine the complete spread of this pest in Southeastern Pennsylvania, states the web site. Intentional movement of the Spotted Lanternfly is prohibited. Violations can result in criminal or civil penalties and-or fines.
Industries and regulated articles under the quarantine that are not to be removed or moved to a new area are, according to the web site:
Any living stage of the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), including egg masses, nymphs, and adults
Brush, debris, bark, or yard waste
Landscaping, remodeling or construction waste
Logs, stumps, or any tree parts
Firewood of any species
Grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock
Outdoor household articles, including recreational vehicles, lawn tractors and mowers, mower decks, grills, grill and furniture covers, tarps, mobile homes, tile, stone, deck boards, mobile fire pits, any associated equipment and trucks or vehicles not stored indoors.
The spotted lanternfly population overwinters as egg masses and has a one-year life cycle. In Pennsylvania, the first nymphs hatch in late April to early May and are less than one-quarter-inch long.
Nymphs develop through four stages, all of which are wingless and incapable of flight. The first three nymphal stages are black with white spots and appear “tick-like.” Fourth instars develop red patches on the body and are more than one-half-inch long. Adults begin to appear in mid-July and are approximately one-inch-long and one-half-inch wide, with wings folded.
The forewing is gray with black spots near the base, and the tips are black with a dense series of lighter gray crossveins. The hindwings are bright red at the base, and have an adjacent region that is black with a white band. The abdomen is yellow with black bands down the center.
Females lay eggs from late September through October. Dozens of egg masses can be found near adult aggregations. Eggs are deposited on tree trunks, limbs, and loose bark as well as any smooth surface, and other man-made structures.
Newly-laid egg masses have a gray, mud-like covering, which can become dry and cracked over time. Old egg masses appear as four to seven columns of seed-like eggs, 30 to 50 eggs in total, approximately one-inch-long.
Given that egg cases are deposited on such a wide variety of surfaces, this is the life stage that may have the greatest potential for spread via accidental transport to new areas.
What can you do now to help stop the spread of this very destructive insect? You can reduce the populations of spotted lanternfly on your property by killing the overwintering eggs. If you are in an area that was infested this past year, you are encouraged to inspect your trees and other objects for spotted lanternfly egg masses, and destroy them before they hatch. Experts expect the eggs will start to hatch in early May, so now through April is a great time to do this. If you see egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. In order to kill the eggs, it is critical that you “pop” the eggs if you are not double-bagging them or putting them in alcohol or hand sanitizer.
To view a video about how to scrape and destroy egg masses: youtube.com/watch?v=WoFp_MbDiE8
“Growing Green” is contributed by Lehigh County Extension Office Staff and Master Gardeners. Information: Lehigh County Extension Office, 610-391-9840; Northampton County Extension Office, 610-746-1970.