Penn State Master Gardeners provide tips for killing spotted lanternflies

from Penn State Master Gardeners of Bucks County:

𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮’𝙧𝙚 𝙃𝙚𝙧𝙚! Are you seeing spotted lanternfly (SLF) adults on your maples, birches, or willows? When early fall arrives, the spotted lanternfly’s favorite food, 𝘈𝘪𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘶𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘢, commonly referred to as tree of heaven, goes into senescence, meaning that it stops moving sap and drops its leaves. This is about the same time spotted lanternflies can be seen moving in large numbers onto other trees. Although this can be alarming, the presence of large numbers of SLF on landscape trees is generally more of a nuisance than a grave threat to the trees.

SLF is now considered to be a plant stressor, that in combination with other stressors (e.g. other insects, diseases, adverse weather) can cause damage to a tree. The SLF alone are not likely to kill a previously healthy mature tree although some branch dieback may result. Death has only been noted in tree saplings, tree-of-heaven, and grapevines. Only after heavy feeding, multiple years of sustained damage, or in particularly dry years may SLF cause significant damage to ornamental and shade trees.

Penn State recommends using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, first taking the numbers of SLF present into account and then using the least-toxic effective methods before more toxic ones whenever possible. With the spotted lanternfly, try mechanical methods first:

❧You can eliminate a lot of SLF by destroying their eggs over the winter months (smash or scrape them into alcohol.)

❧ Swatting/squashing SLF within reach is an easy option.

❧ You can even vacuum SLF off trees!

❧ Traps can be used to kill them and possibly reduce infestation on your trees during this time (until a hard frost kills the adult SLF’s). The recommended trap for SLF is a funnel-style trap called a “circle trap.” You can find instructions as to how to build a circle trap at the following link: https://extension.psu.edu/how-to-build-a-new-style…

Sticky bands, which capture SLF in sticky material as they move up the tree, have also been used to capture SLF. However, these are NOT recommended because this sticky material is not selective and can capture other animals, including pollinators, butterflies, birds, squirrels, and more. Sticky bands should never be used without a wildlife barrier installed around them. Additionally, 𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘪𝘳𝘤𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘱 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘥𝘶𝘭𝘵 𝘚𝘓𝘍 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘬𝘺 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥!

As a last resort, there are many chemical options for killing SLF. These options and application methods are provided in the Penn State “SLF Management Guide” found at the following link: https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly-management… Please note, these chemical options do NOT include home remedies. Because home remedies use products that may already be in your home, some people assume they are safer. For example, a common home remedy uses dish detergent or antibacterial soap mixed with other products to control insects on plants. These products may contain additives that could harm the environment. The dish detergent label does not provide any directions on how to use it on plants to control insects, and whether it might harm beneficial insects (such as ladybugs) or the environment. 𝙎𝙥𝙧𝙖𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙝𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙝 𝙙𝙚𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙣 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝙖 𝙨𝙪𝙣𝙣𝙮 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙟𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙗𝙮 𝙗𝙪𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙩𝙨 𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙨. .

Content by: Colleen Michaels, Penn State Master Gardener, Bucks County.References: Joseph A Francese, Miriam F Cooperband, Kelly M Murman, Stefani L Cannon, Everett G Booth, Sarah M Devine, Matthew S Wallace. Developing Traps for the Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) Environmental Entomology, Volume 49, Issue 2, April 2020, Pages 269–276, https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvz166 PSU Fact Sheet: Avoid Home Remedies to Control Spotted Lanternfly.

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