The spotted lanternfly was accidentally introduced to the US from Asia in 2012 when egg casings were conveyed on imported stone. The larvae hatched that spring at a quarry business in Berks County. Although slow to establish, they have quickly spread to at least 26 Pennsylvania counties, as well as, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia. The spread is expected to continue. Spotted lanternfly infestations pose a significant threat to agriculture and forest health.
Spotted lanternfly has been found to feed on over 70 plant species at different times over the course of their life cycle, however Ailanthus altisimma, the Tree of heaven, also from Asia, is their primary host. They feed by piercing the smooth bark of host plants and suck out plant sugars. Current understanding suggests that Spotted lanternfly must feed on ailanthus at some point to complete their life cycle.
Because of this, managing ailanthus trees has been the primary focus to slow the spread of the spotted lanternfly. Good’s Tree and Lawn Care has been working with the PA Department of Agriculture’s spotted lanternfly mitigation efforts since 2018. In that time, we have destroyed thousands of Ailanthus trees. The effort also includes retaining and treating a subset of ailanthus with a systemic insecticide for direct suppression of the pest.
This large-scale regional approach is crucial for effectively managing the threat; however, it does not necessarily address the concerns of individual landscapes. Heavy feeding on host landscape plants tends to be more of a nuisance, and sanitation issue than a threat to long-term plant viability. Through our experience, we have vetted solutions for our residential and commercial customers.
Recommendations for Homeowners
This pest inspires action. When people encounter lanternfly on their property, they want to get out there and address the problem. Because of this, a marketplace of solutions, as well as, home remedies have followed. Not all of them are effective, and some may have negative environmental impacts. Below is a list of recommendations for property owners, followed by services Good’s Tree and Lawn Care can provide to help suppress lanternfly.
What we recommend:
- Smack them, and stomp on them every chance you get during their active period (May-October).
- Scrape egg casings wherever you find them and wherever you can safely reach them in the dormant season (September-May). Each egg casing can hold up to 50 eggs, therefore this activity is very effective at reducing the number of pests hatching in the spring and it also may slow their spread if eggs are on movable objects.
- Educate others. Spread the word to stop the spread. Doing so will help us get through this.
- Do not use soil-applied systemic insecticides. This delivery is not adequate for suppressing adult lanternfly and may have unintended consequences.
- Minimize the use of contact spray insecticides. If you do use them, be sure to read the product label to lessen exposure, overuse, and misuse.
- Do not use conventional sticky bands. These contribute to the suffering and death of a lot of other insects, as well as, birds, squirrels, and bats. Additionally, they do very little to change the outcomes and they are not aesthetically pleasing to look at for the landscape.
What Good’s Tree and Lawn Care can do to help:
Our arborists can inspect your landscape, and provide a comprehensive strategy for protecting your trees and shrubs while suppressing the pest.
- If there are any volunteer ailanthus trees, we can remove them to reduce attracting and providing a food source for this pest. Ailanthus were considered undesirable trees long before the lanternfly arrived.
- If there are any other host tree species such as red and silver maple, black walnut, or willow that are not considered high value or otherwise important to the landscape you could propose removing the tree(s). This would be particularly compelling for host trees extending over-developed property such as driveways, parking lots, patios, and buildings as we can not stop pest feeding even with treatment.
- Depending on the tree species in your landscape, we can apply labeled systemic insecticides that effectively suppress feeding pressure and kills lanternfly. NOTE: treatment will not stop the pest from coming to the tree.
- Consider signing up for a monthly plant health care program. Our arborist technicians can scout for early season infestation and apply targeted knockdown sprays. We will also be able to provide ongoing dialogue on the effectiveness of treatments and population trends that we are observing.