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There’s still time to help stop the spotted lantern fly

There’s still time to help stop the spotted lantern fly

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Oh, no, not another warning about the spotted lanternfly invasion!

Well, at the risk of over saturation, this is a pest problem that is rapidly spreading now into our area and, yes, there are ways to help protect your property and your community.

October is prime time for adult spotted lantern flies to lay their eggs. It is also prime time to destroy the adults while they are still capable of laying eggs. The adults will hang around, laying up to 3 masses of about 30-50 eggs each until frost kills off those adults. These eggs will overwinter and hatch in the spring, with much greater numbers for us to deal with.

Do not be afraid to approach and destroy the spotted lantern fly, it cannot bite or sting you. Its sole instrument of damage is a tube built for sucking sap out of trees; nothing that can pierce or sting anyone. Its voracious appetite produces copious amounts of sugary excretions, called honeydew, which causes mold on everything below and stinks everything up. These bugs are primarily hoppers, but can fly in an awkward way; often observed flying into things and doing crash landings.

The range of the spotted lantern fly is expanding rapidly, mostly with our help. Its egg masses got here from East Asia by ship on cargo crates, and now enjoys predator free shopping on 70 species of our native trees and shrubs. The nymph stage beetles, the adult flies and the egg masses are ardent hitchhikers on all manner of cars, trucks, boats, etc. and usually tuck themselves into hard to reach areas.

It is much easier to spot and kill the adult lantern fly than to spot and destroy the eggs, so keep an eye out! The egg masses look like a smear of gray cement; found not only on trees, but just about anywhere that is slightly hidden from the elements and prying eyes.

The spotted lantern fly is so damaging because it wears the tree or bush out by removing its lifeblood, or sap. It seems to want to go after some of our most valuable commercial crop fruit trees and vineyard grapevines. The sweetness must be very attractive to them, as wine and apples are to us. So it is a real threat to the economy as well as the environment. It can feast and live on many different trees, but its ancestral host tree from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Therefore, besides stomping spotted lantern fly nymph stage beetles and adults, we can scape, capture and destroy the eggs. Also, however, we can find and remove the Tree Of Heaven, a terribly invasive and useless plant that bears a resemblance to our native and useful American Sumac trees. Removing Tree Of Heaven is something like removing bamboo or Japanese Knotweed; it takes patience and vigilance but it will be worth it in the long run for the value of your property.

Be careful not to rely on pesticides for the spotted lantern fly, it is not necessary or safe. If you can’t reach them in an area for destroying by hand, then make a solution of a quarter cup of dish detergent to a gallon of water and spray them with that. Destroy their remains if you can.

Regarding those egg masses; use a putting knife or stiff card to shuffle them all into a sealable baggie and dispose into the closed trash for municipal pickup.

Educate yourself and your family at spotted or Report your findings also on the badbug site. We are not helpless, we can fight these invasive plants and pests.

Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.

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