Have you seen just a single lanternfly around your property? You don’t have a lot of time to react, lanternfly is invasive and can fill up your yard in a short time. Pests are dangerous to your garden, especially destructive pests like spotted lanternflies.
Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to China, eastern Asia, Vietnam, and India. This pest has infested several states in the US already and it is spreading fast. States like Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland.
This pest is so destructive that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and Researchers at the Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit are waging wars on all fronts against this insect.
Why has this insect pest garnered so much attention?
It is invasive, highly destructive and because of the type of plants it attacks, it affects major industries in the US like the Christmas tree, wine, fruit, and logging industries.
Spotted lanternfly not only threatens these industries, but they can also have devastating effects on your garden. That is why you need to pay attention to this insect pest and eradicate them immediately.
But how do you remove this pest from your yard?
I will show you how in a short while, but before then let’s see what spotted lanternfly is.
What is Spotted Lanternfly?
As already stated, spotted lanternfly (lycorma delicatula) is native to China, eastern Asia, and a few other countries in that region. It was found in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread to over 26 other counties.
Spotted lanternfly is neither a fly nor moth but a planthopper. The nymphs feed on a host of trees, fruits, flowers and grapevines while the adults are more selective of their meals feeding on just a few trees.
Its appearance evolves with each growth stage. In its first few weeks, it looks like a shiny black jewel with white spots. The white spots change into bright red a few weeks later. In adulthood, spotted lanternfly is about an inch long and half an inch wide with black-spotted brown wings.
What Plants Do Spotted Lanternflies Feed on?
Spotted lanternflies feed on a wide range of plants and this is one of the reasons it is so destructive. It feeds on over 70 different plants but some plants are more delicious to it.
Spotted Lanternflies will feed on ornamental trees, flowers, fruit trees, vegetables, hops, vines, among several others. Its choice of meals varies as they grow. The nymphs have a wider range of plants to feed on while the adults feed on just a few plants. There are reports of wooden floors and decks getting damaged by spotted lanternflies.
Here are some of its favorite plants to feed on.
Plants Nymphs Feed on
- Tree of heaven
Plant Adults Feed on
- Tree of heaven
Why is Spotted Lanternflies Gathering so Much Attention?
Although lanternfly has only been in the US for a few years, it has made several agencies stop and take notice.
Why is it so? What makes it such a big deal?
- It feeds on a wide range of plants important to big industries. It feeds on over 70 different plants.
- It reproduces quickly
- It has no known native predator
- It feeds on the sap of the plants which weakens them
- It sticks to houses, railings, patios and lampposts
The Life Cycle of a Spotted Lanternfly
Before you start killing spotted lanternflies you see in your yard, you need to first understand its life cycle. This will guide you on the method of eradication to adopt and the best time to start.
Spotted lanternfly eggs hatch in late spring, usually around late April to May. The nymphs go through their 4 instar growth stages moving up and down the tree repeatedly. They move up the tree to feed, get knocked down by the wind, and then climb back up to feed again. Their resilience is already showing in the early stages.
Spotted lanternflies usually have one generation per year, with four nymphal stages after the egg stage and before the adult stage.
In the first instar stage, the nymph is usually only a quarter-inch long, black with white spots. The second and third instar stages also spot black nymphs with white spots and slightly longer at half-an-inch. At the fourth instar stage, the nymphs turn red with white spots and slightly longer at ¾ inch.
After the fourth instar stage, the nymph molts and turns into an adult, one inch long with greyish brown wings and black spots.
How to Kill Spotted Lanternfly Eggs?
If you find lanternfly eggs, scrape them off hard surfaces, double bag them, and throw them away, or even burn them. You can also put them into alcohol or hand sanitizers.
How to Kill Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs and Adults?
Now that you have understood the life cycle of the lanternfly, it becomes easier to kill them.
What kills spotted lanternflies?
Here are ways to kill this destructive insect and liberate your yard.
- Squash the Bugs
This is perhaps the least harmful method to the environment. You can squash the bugs if they are on hard surfaces.
The bugs may jump the first time but don’t give up as you’ll most like get them the second or third time if you follow them. They usually have little energy left after jumping the first time.
- Remove Tree of Heaven
Host trees like the tree of heaven should be cut down and the stump treated with a tough brush killer to reduce the chance of spotted lanternfly infestation.
Tree of heaven is an invasive tree itself so it may take several tries to finally kill the roots. If you live in a quarantined area, you cannot move the tree stumps out of the area. This is to avoid spreading the lanternflies further.
- Use Sticky Tapes on Host Trees to Set Traps
You can leave one or two host trees like the tree of heaven to trap the spotted lanternflies.
If spotted lanternflies are already on the tree, blow them off using pressurized water from your garden hose. Use tapes with inside out sticky parts to wrap around the tree stump a little above the ground.
Allow the spotted lanternflies to climb back up and get stuck on the sticky tape. Remove the tape and change to a fresh tape when it gets filled up with lanternflies. Burn the tape.
- Use a Shop Vac
If you’ve seen spotted lanternflies on your property, you can use a shop vac to suck them all. Add water and dish soap to the reservoir to kill them.
- Shoot the Insects with Table Salt
You can shoot the insect with table salt at close range using a gun called bug assault. Spotted lanternflies are resilient and the first shot may not kill them but will leave them stunned enough to use the first method – squash them.
- Spray Weeds with vinegar
Sometimes the spotted lanternflies can be found on weeds, when this happens you can use a vinegar solution directly on the insect and the weed. This will kill both of them. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
- Plant Milkweed
Not only is milkweed attractive to beneficial insects like butterflies, but they can also help with your spotted lanternflies problem.
Spotted lanternflies are attracted to milkweed and are unaware of its poisonous nature, so feed on it, get sick, and die.
Invasive, destructive, and ruthless are some of the words you can use to describe the spotted lanternfly insect pest. It feeds on tens of plants paramount to several industries and their infestation leaves a trail of damage in their wake.
It is no wonder the government is putting in so much effort in tackling this growing menace. You can do your part by keeping them away from your property by using any of the listed 7 methods to kill lanternflies in your yard.