Fighting the Spotted Lanternfly

Protect your trees from this harmful pest

The spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive species native to China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. In 2014 it was found in Pennsylvania and had since spread to 14 counties, including Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Delaware, and Chester Counties. SLF is reproducing quickly in our south-eastern Pennsylvania area, and SLF has the potential to become a significant threat to Pennsylvania’s agriculture and forestry industries. 

The spotted lanternfly adult is approximately 1″ long and ½” wide at rest. The forewing is grey with black spots, and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. Immature stages are black with white spots, and they develop red patches as they grow.

The spotted lanternfly is not known to bite or sting or attack people, pets, or livestock. Although the spotted lanternfly will feed on other trees and plants, all life stages strongly prefer the tree of heaven (Ailantus altissima). The PA Department of Agriculture’s recommended technique for controlling the spotted lanternfly is host tree removal and trap tree establishment. There are cases where there may not be Tree of Heaven on your property, but you are still finding the spotted lanternfly.

The best thing any property owner can do is become informed about the spotted lanternfly. By becoming informed, property owners can choose to remove and treat the Ailanthus trees on their properties. Property owners can also follow Penn State’s guidelines for using contact pesticides and treatments on a variety of trees and plants.

What else? Kill it! Squash it, smash it, get rid of it. Each lanternfly has the potential to lay egg masses with 30-50 eggs. The spotted lanternfly is called a bad bug for a reason. In addition to damaging trees and affecting the quality of life, the Spotted Lanternfly is a huge threat to the Pennsylvania agriculture industry. They threaten billions of economic impact and hundreds of thousands of jobs for those in the grapes, apple, hops, and hardwood industries.

Gasper offers three products for control of the spotted lanternfly: Sevin, a contact insecticide; Bayer Tree & Shrub, a systemic insecticide; and Eight Insect Control, an insecticide and miticide for control of insects. Contact insecticides kill the insect when it contacts the insect’s body. You can use a contact insecticide to kill clusters of the spotted lanternfly within a few hours or days. Systemic insecticides are absorbed into the roots or bark of the tree and move through the tree. When the spotted lanternfly feeds on a tree that contains a toxic level of systemic insecticide, they will die. You can use a systemic insecticide to provide weeks or months of protection for important trees. More information on these products is in the next section, below.

Adult Spotted Lanternfly infestation on a red maple tree in Berks County, October 2019.

We hope you will try some non- chemical options since the chemical treatments have an effect on our pollinators, which we know are already struggling.

Helpful Links

Thank you to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, The Ohio State University, and the Penn State Extension websites for assistance with this article. Visit the following links to learn more:

»  How to Identify the Tree of Heaven: HERE

»  More Photos of the Spotted Lanternfly and Life-Cycle Information: HERE

»  Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Spotted Lanternfly Alert Program: HERE

»  Penn State informational handout on the Spotted Lanternfly: HERE

»  Penn State handout on Using Traps for Spotted Lanternfly Management: HERE

In addition to damaging trees and affecting the quality of life, the Spotted Lanternfly is a huge threat to the Pennsylvania agriculture industry. They threaten billions of economic impact and hundreds of thousands of jobs for those in the grapes, apple, hops, and hardwood industries.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Eliminate the Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly Management for Homeowners

Spotted Lanternflys feed on the sap of many different varieties of plants. If you spot them on your property, don’t panic! Learn how to employ effective management treatments such as those listed below.
» Eggs If you see Spotted Lanternfly eggs on trees, scrape off and destroy. A new organic spray, Golden Pest Spray Oil, is said to be effective on eggs
» Nymphs Use tree traps (please cover traps with chicken wire so you don’t trap birds, more on this in next section below.) For contact or systemic insecticides, we recommend Bioadvanced Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed as the systemic chemical and Sevin as the topical spray. Sevin lasts for 7-10 days and will kill all insects good and bad. See some of the many organic ways to tackle these bugsin the next section, Adults.
» Adults Same chemicals as above. Other options are:
— Dr. Earth Organic Yard & Garden Insect Killer
— Captain Jacks Deadbug
— Insecticidal soaps
— Host removal (tree- of-heaven)
— Plant Milkweed! The spotted lanternfly is attracted to it not knowing it is poisonous, they eat it and it kills them
— Smush them
— Electric bug zapper tennis racket works very well
— Shop vac with Dawn dish detergent and water in the reservoir
— If you see them on WEEDS, only WEEDS, spray with vinegar. Kills bug and weed

Stop the Spotted Lanternfly with Duct Tape

Tightly wrap duct tape around your tree with the sticky side facing out. Place it about four feet above the ground. You can also wrap the tree with the sticky side in and cover the tape with vaseline. The lanternflies will not be able to cross the over the band of tape. Consider creating an extra-wide band of tape, and a second band for the lanternflies that might successfully cross over the first band by climbing over their stuck peers.

An important consideration when installing a sticky band involves how to avoid catching unintended, non-target creatures (e.g., bees, butterflies, and mammals), often referred to as bycatch.

Penn State’s suggested method to avoid bycatch involves building a guard over the sticky band out of wire (fencing, such as chicken wire, or mesh, such as window screening) to prevent larger animals from contacting the sticky surface. The petroleum jelly method, described above, is not known to capture mammals. Both of these methods have worked well to reduce bycatch. There is also a commercially available band that uses a white fiber material to hold the inward-facing sticky side of the band away from the trunk of the tree. This creates a protected sticky surface, which reduces the potential of catching birds and other animals.

To learn more about avoiding bycatch, download the Penn State handout on Using Traps for Spotted Lanternfly Management.

A helpful step-by-step video of creating the spotted lanternfly trap with chicken wire to prevent bycatch can be found HERE.

Kill the Spotted Lanternfly with these Products 

Bayer Tree & Shrub
Protect & Feed
(reg. 39.99) SALE 29.99

Sevin Insect Killer
32-ounce, ready to use
(reg. 12.99) SALE 9.99

Eight Insect Control
32-ounce, ready to use

Other Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Trees Healthy

Fertilize Your Trees 

Give your trees a boost with Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer. Nutrients are released immediately and over several months. Premium, organic formula provides optimum nutrition.

» No synthetic chemicals, chicken manure or toxic ingredients.
» Handcrafted from feed grade ingredients. Enriched with organic nutrients found naturally in land plants, ocean plants, fish, fish bones, and mined minerals from the earth. This nutritionally balanced formula promotes very rich and healthy soil equipped to grow the healthiest plants. Healthy soils are capable of growing the healthiest fruits, vegetables, trees, and flowering plants in your home and garden.
» Organic Transparency; OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute), OIM (Organic Input Materials), CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers), and NOP (National Organic Program).
» Sustainably made in the U.S.A. through a collaboration of high-level environmentalists inspired to positively change the world.

Dr. Earth
All Purpose
4 lb.
(reg. 14.99)
SALE 12.99

Protect Your Trees 

Repel deer and rabbits before they feed! This ready-to-use liquid formula repels deer and rabbits from trees, shrubs, flowers, and landscaped ornamental gardens. The repellent works on scent, so deer and rabbits don’t have to take a bite to be repelled. Liquid Fence is an all-natural product.

Liquid Fence
Deer and Rabbit Repellent
32-oz. trigger spray.
(reg. 17.99)
SALE 14.99