Beautiful but nasty, the Spotted Lanternfly is swarming our region in rapidly growing numbers. The impact on you as a homeowner can range from annoying to destructive.
The Spotted Lanternfly feeds primarily on the Tree of Heaven, which is common throughout the Philadelphia area. According to the PA Department of Agriculture, the pest also attacks 25 other tree species in PA, including Black Walnuts, Maples, Apples and Willows.
First spotted in 2014, Penn State's Agriculture Extension has been monitoring the Spotted Lanternfly and issuing warnings about this invasive insect. As Emeilie Swackhamer, Penn State Horticulture Director, explains in an informational YouTube video, it's still too early to determine the long-term impact of Spotted Lanternfly. The insects are definitely causing significant die-back and defoliating branches in trees. Equally alarming for homeowners is the excrement or droppings produced by Spotted Lanternfly.
How Spotted Lanternfly Damages Your Property
Spotten Lanternfly is a menace for more than just what it does to trees. Since swarms can feed on a single tree, the pest's excrement or droppings can cause signficant problems: coating everything underneath the trees, attracting stinging wasps and creating noxious smells.
These pests eat tree sap and then produce droppings of a sweet, sticky substance called Honeydew. The honeydew can be so bad that it looks like rain pouring through the tree. Inevitably, the honeydew rains down on everything under the tree, including cars, hardscapes and decking. Once there, black, sooty mold grows on the honeydew. The combination of honeydew and black, sooty mold has an unpleasantly sour stench and is very difficult to remove from surfaces.
Spotted Lanternfly Attracts Dangerous Stinging Wasps
As if the honeydew rain isn't bad enough, the sweet droppings attract stinging wasps! Wasps can't resist the tantalizing smell of the honeydew, and they will swarm your property for a taste. This situation is particularly a problem for children playing in the area!
How to Identify the Spotted Lanterfly
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. It's hard to miss the bright red markings on a background of black, white and beige patterns. However, when the adults are at rest or feeding on tree sap, the signature red marks are hidden underneath their folded wings making them more difficult to identify.
Check out this informative video from Penn State Extension on identifying the pest and what to do about it.
How To Control Spotted Lanternfly
Giroud Tree and Lawn has studied the latest research to find the most effective control strategies and developed a treatment protocol. “We are fully prepared to combat Spotted Lanternfly,” says Matt Giroud, Giroud's Director of Field Operations, “We have a treatment program in place and are ready to control these pests at the most vulnerable time in their lifecycle. The challenge is making the community aware of the problem.”
Here are some measures we can all take together to control Spotted Lanternfly:
If you see any of these signs, schedule a free inspection with your Giroud ISA Certified Arborist! We'll check your trees. If Spotted Lanternfly is confirmed, we will schedule the proper treatments at the time when the pest is most vulnerable.