There’s a lot of information going around about Spotted Lanternfly now that the insects have emerged in Philadelphia, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties. What is this insect and what does it look like? Where in our area has it been seen? What kind of damage can it do? How do we get rid of Spotted Lanternfly? The experts at Giroud have been working closely with the US Department of Agriculture and Penn State to answer all of these questions! In this round-up post, we share everything you need to know about Spotted Lanternfly, plus how to report your sightings and the best methods for combatting the insect and treating your property.
What is Spotted Lanternfly?
What Does Spotted Lanternfly Look Like?
One of the things that makes this insect difficult to control is the fact that it goes through several identities during it’s life cycle. Adult females lay eggs in the fall, and they go to great lengths to cover the egg masses in a secretion that dries hard and camouflages to look like dirt or clay. The young nymphs that emerge from the eggs in spring are black with white spots. In early summer, they gain red markings on their bodies. Then, midsummer they become adults and shed their skin to form wings on their backs.
These wings are their true tell-tale, with bright red markings on a background of black, white and beige patterns. However, when the adults are at rest or feeding on tree sap, their signature red marks are hidden underneath their folded wings making them more difficult to identify.
Spotted Lanternfly Damage
How Spotted Lanternfly Harms Trees
These insects feed primarily on the Tree of Heaven, which is common throughout our region. Unfortunately, they also swarm many other types of trees, including Black Walnuts, Maples, Apples, Willows, and many more. According to the PA Department of Agriculture, they attack more than 70 species of trees, and 25 of them are found in Pennsylvania.
At this point, it’s hard to determine the long-term damage to trees. Emeilie Swackhamer, Penn State Horticulture Director, has been following the invasive insect and monitoring infested trees for 3 years. She explains in an informational YouTube video that while it’s still too early to say what the long-term effects will be, the insects are definitely causing significant die-back and defoliating branches in trees. However, there are other concerns you should be aware of.
How Spotted Lanternfly Causes Property Damage
These insects eat tree sap and then excrete droppings of a sweet, sticky substance called Honeydew. The honeydew will coat the tree, the base of the tree, and anything underneath the tree, including cars, hardscapes and decking. Then, black, sooty mold grows on the secreted substance. The combination of honeydew and black, sooty mold has an unpleasantly sour stench and is very difficult to remove from surfaces.
How they Attract Dangerous Insects
Even more unsettling, the secreted honeydew attracts stinging wasps! Wasps can’t resist the tantalizing smell of the honeydew, and they will swarm your property for a taste. Homeowners are struggling to rid their yards of stinging wasps, and it’s particularly a problem for children playing in the area!
How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternfly