If you just moved to Pennsylvania, you should be aware of an invasive species called the spotted lanternfly. Lanternflies are about an inch in length. Despite looking like moths, they are actually plant-hoppers. They have grey forewings with black spots and red and black hindwings.

This insect is originally from Asia, but since 2014, it has become an invasive pest in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Take a look at why this insect can be an issue and how to protect your property.

Why Are They a Pest?

Thankfully, lanternflies aren’t dangerous to human health like some pests (e.g. ticks). However, they can be annoying if you want to enjoy your yard. They aren’t wary about flying around your face or landing on your clothing.
Although annoying, the main reason lanternflies are a problem is due to their ability to destroy vegetation. They can feed on at least 70 species of trees, bushes, and vines. They can also be damaging to crops, like grapes, thus affecting those in the agricultural sector. When they feed on trees, they can open the bark up, thus causing cankers since these areas have exposure to fungus and bacteria.

They can also damage plants with their sugary excrement — euphemistically referred to as honeydew. Honeydew encourages the growth of a fungus called sooty mold. Sooty mold isn’t harmful to you or your family, but it can damage the plants by causing curled, wilting leaves. This damage makes it harder for the plant to undergo photosynthesis and get adequate nutrients.

Besides damaging plants, honeydew secretions can be food sources for other pests. Honeydew secretions can attract ants, wasps, and hornets. Hornet species can be aggressive and build nests on your home, so curb the lanternfly population so other pests stay away too.

How Can You Deal with an Infestation?

Lanternflies lay their eggs in September and October. They can lay about 30 to 50 eggs each. They will usually lay them on patio furniture, house siding, rocks, trees, and bushes. When you blow out your sprinkler system, rake leaves, or do other fall tasks, keep an eye out for eggs.
Egg masses tend to look like putty or dried-out chewing gum. To remove them, put on some disposable gloves and use a putty knife to scrape them into a disposable bag. To make sure the eggs die, fill the bag with some rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Besides removing eggs, you’ll want to limit lanternflies’ main food sources with tree banding. When lanternflies are in the nymph stage of growth, they’ll usually climb up trees to feed on softer growth. Wrap a sticky band around the tree’s trunk to stop these insects in their tracks. Once the band is full, you can throw it away in the garbage.
Lanternflies love feeding on the Ailanthus tree (Tree of Heaven). So, if you have this tree in your yard, it would be a good one to band. If you aren’t sure where to band or which tree species to band, contact a pest control service for more help.

During the summer months, have a pest control technician spray your landscaping. Pest control technicians can spray chemicals that seal the bark, or they can inject the tree’s bark with an insecticide. You could also consider soil drenching, where diluted insecticides go directly at the base of a plant. If you are worried about harsh chemicals, contact a service that uses eco-friendly, low-toxicity products.

Contact us at Environmental Services Pest Control, LLC, for more information and help. Don’t let spotted lanternflies become an issue. We can protect your home and property year-round.