The spotted lanternfly (lycorma delicatula) is an invasive species native to China, India, and Vietnam. It is a plant-hopper, and has spread to areas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Our own Harford and Cecil counties have been affected by the spotted lanternfly and subsequently quarantined as vehicle travel in and out of these counties can easily help spread their population to other areas.
So how do we identify and understand what these insects can do? How can we help prevent the spread, and protect our trees and plants in the process?
How do I identify a spotted lanternfly?
The adult spotted lanternfly is about 1 inch long and half an inch wide. The legs and head are black, the abdomen is yellow with black bands. The forewing is grey with black spots, and the hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band.
What is so harmful about the spotted lanternfly?
By definition, an invasive species such as the spotted lanternfly does not have any natural predators in the areas that they invade. Therefore, they are able to reproduce and thrive without consequence or regulation. In the case of the spotted lanternfly, they can cause leaf curling and dieback in trees, vines, crops, and other types of plants. They can cause wilting and oozing sap. When feeding, the lanternflies excrete a sugary substance referred to as “honeydew,” which causes the growth of a black mold. While the mold is harmless to humans, it’s a huge threat to our trees, plants, and crops.
What does this mean for us?
The spotted lanternfly affects quality of life for residents who want to enjoy the outdoors – masses of these insects can cover trees, swarm in the air, and their honeydew can coat playgrounds, decks, and other outdoor surfaces. However, quality of life is not the only issue.
Due to their devastating impact on trees and crops, the spotted lanternfly is a major threat to the agriculture industry and greatly affect job loss and impact the economy by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The USDA has provided a list of trees most susceptible to SLF:
- Maple Trees
- Oak Trees
- Pine Trees
- Poplar Trees
- Sycamore Trees
- Walnut Trees
- Willow Trees
How can I help?
- First things first – if you spot the spotted lanternfly, kill it. Squish them, use spray insecticide – whatever method works best for you.
- Destroy any egg masses you see on trees. They look like a mound of mud. Ideally, submerge them in rubbing alcohol, as the young can still hatched if they have merely been scraped from trees.
- Make sure that you report the sighting (especially if you are outside of the quarantine zone) to 410-841-5920 or MD@maryland.gov.
- Wrap your affected tree or deck posts with sticky paper or duct tape. Keep the tape at least 4 feet off the ground. As the lanternflies crawl up the tree, they will get caught on the sticky paper or tape.
- Plant milkweed. These insects are attracted to Common Milkweed because they are invasive and do not know that it’s poisonous to them. They feed on the milkweed and die.
If you believe that your trees or plants have been affected by the spotted lanternfly, please give us a call. One of our professionals would be happy to assess any damage and recommend a course of action for the future to get your trees healthy again.
With decades of experience, Manor Tree Service provides arborist expertise to Baltimore and Harford Counties.