The spotted lanternfly (SLF) (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive pest endemic to China, India, Vietnam, and eastern Asia that was first discovered in September 2014 in eastern Pennsylvania. It has since been discovered in New York, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Nymphs cause the most damage and feed on numerous host plants, including grapevines, pine, and fruit trees, posing a significant danger to the U.S. fruit, wine, logging, and even Christmas tree industries.
When it jumps or flies, the spotted lanternfly resembles a moth, yet it is neither a fly nor a moth. It is a type of planthopper belonging to the Hemiptera order (cicadas, leafhoppers, and aphids). The adults prefer to feed on the non-native host plant "tree of heaven" (Allianthus altissima), although the immature stages (or nymphs) graze on a variety of trees, fruits, and even grapevines.
The egg masses (or clusters) of the spotted lanternfly are brown, resemble seeds, and measure approximately 1 inch in length. They are covered in a mud-like secretion that enables them to adhere to surfaces in large groups. After hatching, nymphs undergo four growth stages, or instars. Black with white patches, immature nymphs acquire red markings as they progress through the fourth instar. The size of late-stage nymphs is roughly 12 an inch. The adult spotted lanternfly is 1 inch in length and has brownish forewings with black spots and red hindwings with black spots.
From May through November, spotted lanternflies feed on a variety of host plants, and their feeding habits alter as they age. The nymphs eat on a wide variety of host plants, however the adults exclusively feed on a few species. The SLF feeds on around 65 recognized plant species, including ornamental trees (such as lilac and dogwood), fruit trees, vines (such as grapes), tiny fruits (such as blueberries), hops, and various vegetables.
Preferred plant species for spotted lanternfly nymphs:
Understanding the life cycle of the spotted lanternfly can allow you to effectively regulate and prevent problems. The eggs are fertilized in late April. This typically occurs in May, but it can sometimes occur in late April. As they progress through their four instar stages, nymphs resume a cycle of climbing and descending host trees. They climb trees to feed, are knocked off by wind or precipitation, and then re-climb the tree. Around July, in the middle of summer, the nymphs will mature into adults. The adults will then mate, and females will lay eggs from late summer to early autumn. The following generation survives the winter as eggs, whereas the adults perish in late autumn.
From early fall until late spring, look for the egg masses on and near host trees. From late spring to early autumn, keep an eye out for dark sap streaming down the bark of trees. (This is the result of the SLF penetrating the bark of the tree to reach the sap.) Additionally, infected trees may have honeydew discharges at their bases, which often develop a dark sooty mold over time. Sap and honeydew that are exposed can attract a greater number of bees and wasps. Adults congregating on tree-of-heaven in the autumn is conclusive evidence of an SLF infestation.
There are five procedures that must be performed to aid in the control and prevention of the spread of the spotted lanternfly.
If you live or visit locations of the United States where SLF has been discovered, you should inspect any outdoor goods for egg masses before moving them. This includes automobiles, firewood, outdoor furniture, picnic tables, boats, and toys for children.
From late September through May, egg masses should be observed. Using a knife or a thin plastic card, the egg masses can be scraped off surfaces. Before discarding the egg masses, they should be packed in a plastic bag or immersed straight in hand sanitizer or alcohol to destroy them.
High-risk host trees can be banded using a product like Tree Tanglefoot® Insect Barrier from late April to early November to capture nymphs as they ascend the trunk to feed. Throughout the month of July, tree bands should be routinely removed and replaced every one to two weeks.
Mid-summer through early autumn, cut down high-risk SLF host plants, such as tree of heaven. To prevent the SLF from causing damage to other plants on your land, remove only around 90 percent of the host trees and utilize the remaining 10 percent as "trap trees" to manage the adult SLFs. Please remember that if you reside in a quarantined county in Pennsylvania, you cannot remove wood from the quarantined area.
Call a reputable pest control company like PJ Mac Pest Control for preventative maintenance, or for spotted lanterfly removal.
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