Spring has sprung, it is getting warmer by the week in Chester County, and it looks to be a beautiful summer. Imagine you're outside sitting on your deck enjoying a tasty beverage, relaxing and listening to the birds when you see something that looks like a small black alien crawling on your deck furniture. Taking a napkin, you brush it off the table, but as you do that, wait, there's another one! And, wait a minute, there's another one on the rail and one on the deck. What are these weird looking little black alien bugs?
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that originated from China, India, and Vietnam and appeared in Pennsylvania in Berks County in 2014.
The lifecycle of the spotted lanternfly starts with the insect's eggs attaching to trees and tree branches in a clay/mud like patch. This patch is about one inch wide and two inches long. If you take a look at any tree in your yard or neighborhood, you may see these light patches on the bottom branches. This is where the spotted lanternfly egg masses are found. Once the eggs hatch, the first stage of development is what they call nymphs. The nymphs are the little black insects with white spots on them, and they can't yet fly at this point.
As the insect grows, they become more significant in size with a black body with white dots. They will also have red coloring on their bodies. At this stage of their growth, they can hop pretty well and become more of a pest when attempting to get rid of them.
The final stage of the spotted lanternfly is a fly looking insect with grey wings and black spots. There may also be red coloring in the wings. Adult spotted lanternflies are about one inch long. Catching one or terminating one may be difficult as they will typically jump away from you when approaching.
An excellent resource for learning more is the Penn State website!
What Can You Do to Help Stop Spotted Lanternflies?
One way to stop these insects in the nymph stage is tree banding. This means putting a sticky tape-like substance around a tree. I used standard grey duct tape. The nymphs like to climb the tree, and as they cross over the sticky tape, they get stuck.
As you can see in the photo, this technique captures quite a number of the early nymphs.
I saw this sticky tape tree banding technique this week at a friend's house and decided to try it on my tree. I was amazed at the number of nymphs that it captured. I have been putting a new strip of duct tape around the tree every other day and continue to get a large number of nymphs stuck to the tape.
To learn more about the spotted lanternfly and what you can do to help prevent this invasive species, click on the links below to visit the Penn State Extension page and a few other informative sites.