The spotted lanternfly (SLF) is a recent invasive pest threatening Pennsylvania and surrounding regions. Originating from Asia, these pests wreak havoc on trees and plants in residential areas. While they do not pose a direct bite threat to humans, their presence is both challenging to eliminate and significantly bothersome.

At Seitz Bros., our experienced pest control experts are equipped with strategies to mitigate the lanternfly’s impact on our communities. Here’s what you need to know.

Identifying the Lanternfly

Effectively managing the spotted lanternfly population requires familiarity with their appearance at various life stages. Recognizing these pests early can lead to more successful containment and elimination efforts.

  • Adults: Active from late summer to winter. They’re about one inch long with distinctive features: black bodies, grey wings with black spots, and vivid red markings underneath their wings when spread.
  • Eggs: Laid in fall, these egg masses look like smears of mud on flat surfaces, such as trees or stones, hiding 30 to 50 eggs each.
  • Nymph Stages: The lanternflies go through four nymph stages, starting as small, black, and white-spotted creatures. As they mature, they develop noticeable red patches alongside their initial black and white colors.

Signs You Might Be Dealing With Lanternflies

Recognizing the signs of a spotted lanternfly infestation is crucial for early intervention. Here are a few key indicators that you might be dealing with these pests:

  • Egg Masses: Look for egg masses that resemble grayish, mud-like coatings on various surfaces, including trees, stones, and man-made objects. These can be present from late fall through early spring before they hatch.
  • Sooty Mold: The presence of a black, sooty mold on plants and the ground beneath them. This mold grows on the sugary excretions (honeydew) produced by feeding lanternflies and can indicate an active or nearby infestation.
  • Damaged Vegetation: Lanternflies feed on a wide variety of plants, including grapevines, fruit trees, and hardwoods. Look for signs of wilting, leaf curling, and decreased vitality in plants, which can signal lanternfly feeding activity.
  • Increased Insect Activity: Spotting the distinctive adult lanternflies, with their black bodies and spotted gray wings, often in large numbers around your property, especially from late summer to fall.
  • Honeydew Accumulation: Sticky, sugary substance on surfaces under infested plants. This honeydew can attract other insects and lead to the growth of sooty mold.
  • Nymph Sightings: During late spring to summer, keep an eye out for the smaller nymphs, which can vary in color from black with white spots to red with white spots and black stripes as they mature.

What Attracts Spotted Lanternflies?

Spotted lanternflies are attracted to a variety of plants and environmental conditions. Understanding what draws them can help in managing their spread and impact. Here are the key attractants:

  • Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima): This tree is a preferred host for spotted lanternflies. While they can feed on a wide range of plants, the Tree of Heaven is particularly attractive to them for feeding and reproduction.
  • Agricultural Crops: Lanternflies are known to feed on grapes, apples, peaches, and other fruit trees, making vineyards and orchards prime targets.
  • Hard Surfaces for Egg Laying: Females lay eggs on almost any flat surface, including trees, rocks, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and buildings. These egg masses are more likely to be found on smooth surfaces.
  • High Plant Diversity: Areas with a diverse array of plants, especially those that include lanternflies’ preferred hosts like grapevines, stone fruits, and hardwood species, are especially attractive.
  • Moisture and Shade: Like many insects, spotted lanternflies prefer environments that offer moisture and shade for part of the day, which can be found in many landscaped areas and near buildings.

Are Spotted Lanternflies Bad?

Yes, spotted lanternflies are considered harmful for several reasons, primarily due to their impact on agriculture, ecosystems, and quality of life in infested areas:

  • Agricultural Damage: They feed on a wide variety of plants, including economically important crops like grapes, apples, and hops. This feeding damage can significantly reduce crop yields and quality, posing a substantial threat to the agriculture industry.
  • Harm to Trees and Plants: By feeding on the sap of a wide range of trees and plants, lanternflies can weaken these hosts, making them more susceptible to disease and other pests. This can lead to decreased health and, in some cases, the death of the trees and plants.
  • Nuisance to Residents: The sheer number of lanternflies and the sticky honeydew they excrete can make infested areas unpleasant for people living in or visiting these areas. The honeydew can cover outdoor surfaces, attract other insects, and lead to the growth of sooty mold, further impacting outdoor enjoyment and property aesthetics.

What to Do When You Find a Spotted Lanternfly?

If you find a spotted lanternfly or suspect an infestation on your property, taking immediate action is crucial. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Identify the Presence: Confirm if what you’ve found are indeed spotted lanternflies or their egg masses.
  • Manual Removal:
    • For Adults and Nymphs: Kill them on sight if manageable.
    • For Egg Masses: Scrape off into a container with alcohol or hand sanitizer for destruction.
  • Report Sightings: Use local agricultural extension services or designated online platforms to report your findings.
  • Limit Attractants: Minimize host plants like the Tree of Heaven on your property.
  • Deploy Sticky Bands: Install these around trees to catch lanternflies, adding a protective layer to safeguard other wildlife.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Not all infestations are easily managed on your own, especially large or persistent ones. Speak to your local pest control experts.

Spotted Lanternfly Control Services

Unsure about those spotted lanternfly eggs or adults on your property? Seitz Bros. has the expertise to identify and tackle your pest problems effectively no matter if it’s a home or business.

Call us for a free quote or to book an assessment today. Let’s discuss your lanternfly concerns and put an end to the infestation. We proudly serve Northeast & Central PA, Lehigh Valley & Pocono Mountains.