An invasive pest not native to the U.S., the spotted lanternfly is a destructive pest that was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014. While commercial agriculture was their initial target, spotted lanternflies have since spread into residential areas: backyard landscapes, gardens, orchards, woodlands, and community green spaces have now become habitats for these invasive pests.
What you need to know about the invasive spotted lanternfly
Damage to trees, plants, and property
The spotted lanternfly can reproduce quickly, leaving risk for a heavy infestation, which can decimate all types of trees and plants. Fruit trees, grapevines, and ornamental plants – some of their favorites – can quickly become infested with these destructive pests. In fact, smaller plants are sometimes the food source of nymphs as it is easier than feeding off of trees. With over 70 species of trees and plants to feed on, there is no telling where the spotted lanternfly will strike next.
In addition to the damage caused by sucking sap, spotted lanternflies also leave behind excrement, known as honeydew. This sticky substance can result in the growth of a black, sooty mold on surfaces. Although harmless to people, it can cause significant damage to trees and plants. Not only is it unsightly, but it’s also difficult to remove from any object it lands on such as patios, outdoor furniture, decks, cars, awnings, etc. Honeydew can also attract ants, bees, hornets, and wasps, which may become a secondary pest problem for you.
If you spot black, sooty mold on any of your landscaping or around the exterior of your home, it may be a sign that spotted lanternflies are present. Talk to one of our pest control Specialists to see what your options are for preventing spotted lanternfly damage.
Spotted lanternfly lifecycle and identification
Especially important for the prevention and eradication of the spotted lanternfly is understanding when the adults will lay eggs and when those eggs will hatch. Also knowing what the eggs, nymphs, and adults look like will help you to identify the first signs of activity.
There is only one generation of spotted lanternfly each year. Adults lay their eggs in the fall and the eggs hatch in the spring. Egg masses are laid on hard surfaces (trees, decks, houses, rocks, etc.) and are protected with a with a putty-like covering. Each egg mass contains approximately 30–50 eggs.
Once the eggs hatch, the spotted lanternfly goes through four nymphal stages. Nymphs are small (1⁄8 to 1⁄2 inch) and can be hard to find. In the first three stages, the nymphs are black with white spots. In the fourth stage, the nymphs are red with white dots and black stripes.
Starting in July, adults are active until temperatures drop to below freezing. Spotted lanternfly adults are about 1-inch long. Their bodies are black and their wings are pinkish-gray with black spots; the tips are black with gray veins. You may see adults perched in trees with their wings closed, or hopping about, but they do have the ability to fly short distances and will do so when startled or seeking out food sources. Do not be distracted by their beauty – these are a plant-destroying invasive species that must be eradicated.
- Avoid transporting hitchhiking lanternflies. Inspect your vehicle, trailer, or any outdoor items before you leave for another location.
- Try not to park your vehicle under tree lines and keep windows rolled up.
- Know the life stages of the insect and when to look for them.
- Destroy spotted lanternflies and their egg masses.
- Apply sticky tree bands to trees on your property in early spring to catch nymphs.
- Remove their preferred tree of choice, Tree of Heaven, from your property. This requires the tree to be cut down and an herbicide applied to the stump.
Report any sightings to your state department of agriculture.
Spotted lanternfly treatment options
Ehrlich offers two spotted lanternfly treatments for residential properties – year-round or monthly. Both are effective for preventing damage to your trees, plants, and property.
SpotGuard Seasonal Spotted Lanternfly Service | Applied April through July
This preventative year-round treatment helps to protect your vegetation and landscaping against adult spotted lanternflies and nymphs. An Ehrlich Pest Specialist will survey your property, measure impacted plants, trees, and shrubs and apply a systemic insecticide that is absorbed and dispersed throughout. The treatment will not harm your vegetation, but it will prevent these destructive pests from feeding on and damaging any plants, trees and shrubs around your home. This service is most effective when performed early in the year (April-May) when trees are actively growing and prior to when the nymphs begin to appear.
SpotGuard Monthly Spotted Lanternfly Service | Applied July through October
This treatment helps to temporarily control spotted lanternfly populations around your property, preventing damage to your landscaping, garden, and property. Each treatment typically lasts between 2-4 weeks and requires periodic treatments to maintain effective results.
If you believe you have a spotted lanternfly issue or live in areas where the pest has been identified, Ehrlich Pest Control can help. Contact us online or give us a call at 888.984.0186.