Growing Green: Spotted Lanternfly
In an attempt to eradicate the Spotted Lanternfly, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has issued a quarantine order for 75 municipalities in portions of and-or all of Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties.
Officials are trying to protect landscape and agricultural businesses.
Residents in affected areas are being asked to help with the quarantine.
In March, Salisbury Township and Coopersburg borough were added to the PDA Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine, which includes Upper Saucon, Whitehall, South Whitehall, Lower Macungie, Upper Macungie, Lower Milford, and Upper Milford townships; Macungie and Alburtis boroughs, and Allentown and Bethlehem.
Quarantine areas can change when more discoveries are made.
Officials are concerned because the Spotted Lanternfly has the potential to damage grapes, peaches, timber and landscape trees, which are intrinsic to the agriculture economy of Pennsylvania and other states.
The quarantine, supported and enforced by government officials in affected communities, states that items that could hold any life stage of the Spotted Lanternfly may not knowingly be moved outside the quarantined area without inspection and compliance. This includes firewood, vehicles, outdoor household items, and any items stored outside, as well as building materials and plants or plant parts.
The quarantine includes municipal recycling centers.
The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive insect first discovered in Berks County in September 2014. The Spotted Lanternfly is not known to exist anywhere else in North America. The Spotted Lanternfly is native to parts of Asia. It is a type of plant hopper, not a true fly.
The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) attacks hosts, including grape vines and apple trees and has the potential to harm the grape, fruit tree, and logging industries. Early detection is considered vital for the protection of Pennsylvania businesses and agriculture.
The Spotted Lanterfly feeds on a variety of landscape plants, including maple, birch, willow, and Virginia creeper in addition to its favorite host, Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which is an invasive tree from Asia.
High populations of Spotted Lanternfly can develop on host plants. Heavy feeding pressure causes stress on host plants and can weaken them.
The Spotted Lanternfly secretes a sticky, sweet substance called honeydew, which is actually partially digested sap. Honeydew accumulates in large quantities under heavily infested trees.
Honeydew attracts stinging insects like yellow jackets and it also supports growth of a black fungus called sooty mold. This is not an attractive scenario in a residential landscape.
Spotted Lanternfly eggs survive the winter and hatch in May. The first stages of nymphs are small, and black with white spots. The last nymphal stage is red and black with white spots.
Spotted Lanternfly adults begin to appear in July. Adults are about one-inch-long and rest with their wings folded over their backs. All the mobile life stages can jump many feet and they are difficult to catch.
For residents to help eradicate the Spotted Lanternfly, it’s important to know what the insect looks like in all its life stages.
If you think you found a Spotted Lanternfly outside of the quarantine area, try to collect a sample or take a photograph of it with your cell phone or camera and report your finding and location and email the image to the PDA: Badbug@pa.gov; 1-866-253-7189.
To comply with the quarantine, residents must inspect any outdoor item before moving it to an area outside the quarantine, destroy any viable life stages they find and use a PDA-compliance checklist.
Businesses should contact the PDA to make arrangements so they can transport items that have been stored outside.
Residents can help stop the spread and help with the effort to eradicate this insect. It helps to start looking around Ailanthus trees. This preferred host has large compound leaves and they are often confused with staghorn sumac or walnut trees.
When you crush the foliage or stems of Ailanthus, they have a rank odor. It has been described as smelling like rancid peanut butter.
Penn State Extension offers a fact sheet calendar that summarizes management options throughout the year.
Spotted Lanternfly eggs can be destroyed before they hatch by smashing them or scraping them into a container of rubbing alcohol.
Young Spotted Lanternfly nymphs can be captured on sticky bands placed around trees. Older nymphs and adults can be destroyed by swatting or killed by a carefully applied pesticide, labeled for the site. Residents may want to contract with a professional applicator if they are considering making a pesticide application.
For the most recent information on the quarantine area, compliance with the quarantine, and to find the checklist for residents, go to: pda.state.pa.us/spottedlanternfly.
Penn State Extension fact sheets and webinars about the Spotted Lanternfly are available at: extension.psu.edu/pests/spotted-lanternfly.
“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.