While there are a number of pests that cause issues for farmers and gardeners, some threats are greater than others when it comes to insects. A pest that is on the rise in the United States and has potential to cause a great amount of damage is the lanternfly, which feeds on fruit crops and the wood of various trees.

What Is a Lanternfly?

Lanternflies are relatively small, measuring about an inch in length. They are usually red, white, and black with small black spots along their back. Although they are small, they feed on hard wood, grapes, apples, and other varieties of fruit crops. They are capable of causing large wounds in the wood of trees, leaving them open to mold and fungus and have been known to devastate plant life quickly when introduced to new areas. In some cases, trees that have been attacked by lanternflies may begin to produce sap-like substances in an effort to protect themselves, but this sap may attract other pests to the tree.

An average lanternfly life cycle lasts about a year, during which time they can lay between 30 and 50 eggs.

Where are Lanternflies Found?

Lanternflies are normally found in Asian countries. They were introduced to Korea roughly nine years ago, where they began to cause major devastation for crops. In the United States, lanternfly infestations have only been observed since the early fall of 2014. The first state in which lanternflies appeared was Pennsylvania, where a number of measures have been implemented to resist the spread of the infestation. If you do travel to lanternfly pervasive areas, it’s important to use this checklist to avoid taking them home with you.

Lanternflies are able to lay their eggs on any level surface, whether it’s of a natural substance like stone, wood or things like patio furniture and vehicles. Because the eggs are usually a neutral color like brown or gray, they can go unnoticed by homeowners. This means that they can readily hide on everyday surfaces and spread from one area to the next rather quickly.

How to Get Rid of Lanternflies

Egg Mass Scraping

The easiest way to get rid of lanternflies is to remove the egg sacks that they lay before they are able to hatch. Because the egg sacks attach to smooth surfaces, they can be scraped and placed into an alcohol solution in order to kill the pests inside of the egg sack. In the absence of rubbing alcohol, a basic alcohol solution such as the one found in common hand sanitizer can be used to drown the larvae inside of a scraped egg sack.

Since SLF (Spotted Lanternflies) commence laying in October and ‘through the first few hard frosts’, it’s important to keep an eye out for them. The eggs are mostly placed on rocks, man-made objects (usually stored outdoors), and trees. The eggs, usually covered in wax, average 30-50 individual eggs. Whenever these egg masses are encountered, they can be scraped by property owners. A simple knife, stick, or credit card can be used to remove them. It’s not guaranteed that eggs left on the ground won’t survive, so be sure to use the alcohol method to kill them.

Tree Banding

After being laid, the spotted lanternfly nymphs will emerge from the egg masses in early May and go through the nymph

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stages. They will spend time on the surface from which they emerge, and will crawl about to feed. Though these nymphs can affect many different plants, they’re more prone to the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

To get rid of spotted lanternflies in their nymphal stages, banding these trees have proven quite effective. This can be done with adhesive tapes. Note: This is most effective when the nymphs are in their first 3 nymphal stages. Brown colored adhesive bands are most effective based on Research done in Korea. Replace bands every 2 weeks if this method is chosen. A simple tree banding kit can be obtained online or from your local Walmart.

Insecticides

At least three different forms of insecticides are currently known to be useful against the adult lanternfly. Recently, traps that use natural oils, such as peppermint and spearmint, have been found to be effective in enticing lanternflies to feed, which can help homeowners to remove the pests without harsh chemicals.

Finally, the best biological option for the control of a lanternfly infestation on a large scale is to introduce a particular variety of parasitic wasp, although this may be more effective for large agricultural operations, rather than gardeners and homeowners, as the wasps may be more of a hazard to the homeowners than the lanternfly is. This solution has been attempted in Korea and several other Asian countries, where it has been deemed to be highly successful and effective.

How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternflies on the Tree of Heaven

Since the tree of heaven has a regenerative root system, to control an infestation, suppression of this species is required. Multiple treatments will be required to control this infestation, along with various control methods.

Foliar Sprays

Using foliar sprays is a common method recommended to control lanternflies on a tree of heaven. It is recommended, however, that the foliar spray consists of a herbicide. When applied, the leaves and shoots should be covered with the foliar spray. Foliar sprays are most effective when dealing with sprouts and suckers. (It’s also effective when used with a surfactant.) It’s best to treat a tree of heaven from June to September.

Basal Bark Spray 

When a tree of heaven is young (less than four inches in diameter), basal bark sprays are effective.

Use the suggested herbicide along with an oil carrier. This treatment is perfect when used to regulate smaller trees, especially in late winter and summer.


Hacking and Squirting Method

Hacking and squirting as a treatment against spotted lanternflies are effective when used as a control method for the tree of heaven. This treatment is done by making a step of downward cuts in the bark with the help of a machete or anything analogous. The cups should coincide with your chest (chest height) and should look like cups made around the tree. Hacking and squirting do not encircle the stem because there is space between the cuts. This allows the herbicide to move properly through the tree’s transport system. Results are best shown during June to September.

Stump Treatment

Subsequent to a freshly cut stump, it’s necessary and important to apply an herbicide to prevent suckering and sprouting. The stump should undergo herbicide treatment immediately after the cut to ensure that the roots will readily absorb the substance. Treatment of stumps is more effective when done during growing season.

Attract and Kill

There are many insecticides that are effective against the spotted lanternfly. However, it’s difficult to apply the treatment to SLF throughout their varying life cycle. For instance: As eggs, SLFs are transferred in concealed and protected areas. Additionally, research shows that nymphs travel or spread out and will be all over the property, not in a concentrated area. During the last instar and adult stage, SLF will make their way to find the tree of heaven. During this stage of the spotted lanternflies’ life cycle, landowners can concentrate their efforts and deliver insecticides in a potent and effective way. This method is known as ‘attract and kill’. Along with applying insecticides, tree reduction method is also useful.

 

 

Trap Trees Method

In most cases, SLF must find its way to feed on the tree of heaven commencing mid-July. Knowing that information, landowners can deliver a method called trap trees. The trap tree method is done by allowing a few small number of live tree of heaven on a property; that is after the reduction of host trees. Because the vast majority of trees would have been removed, when the last instar and adults commence looking for the tree of heaven, they have no other option but to turn to the trap trees.

 

The perfect trap tree must be male and about 10 inches wide. This is because the tree of heaven is both male and female. As the female tree of heaven produces seeds, they will be able to repopulate the property; That makes it ideal to use male trees.

To control spotted lanternflies, applying a system of insecticide will help to kill off adults. Dinotefuran is an application that can be used as it’s targeted with active ingredients. For this to work, SLF must be feeding on the tree of heaven.

As most other organisms do not target tree of heaven, exposure to the insecticides used is kept to a minimum. The number of trap trees used is uncertain, but the application should be applied yearly; at least until SLF aren’t detected.


Other Concerns about Lanternflies

Because lanternflies have the capacity to reproduce quickly and to cause harm to even the healthiest of plants, it is important to report signs of a lanternfly infestation to the proper agricultural authority in your area. In Pennsylvania, several measures were introduced to attempt to quarantine the infestation, such as the introduction of inspections of any business that regularly stored merchandise outside, such as auto body shops and grocery stores with outdoor displays.

Because lanternfly eggs can be well camouflaged and adult lanternflies can spread rapidly, agricultural experts also recommend that whenever possible, firewood should be purchased in the same area in which it will be burned, since lanternflies often lay their eggs on wood when they can. When transporting goods that have been stored outside to another area, make sure to thoroughly examine the surfaces of every item transported to ensure that lanternflies are not inadvertently brought to a new location to spread.

 


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50 Comments

  1. Fred 6:54 AM 19 July 2017

    The article says “At least three different forms of pesticide are currently known to be useful against the adult lanternfly”. What are those three different forms of pesticides?

  2. JM 9:03 AM 16 August 2017

    From what I read: “Three other insecticide products, bifenthrin, pymetrozine, and Beauveria bassiana strain GHA, are only proposed for use in small experimental plots to evaluate the efficacy of each in controlling SLF. Experimental treatments would only occur on private properties within the current quarantine area, and only with landowner permission. If these insecticides prove to be effective against SLF in experimental use, they may be added to the program in the future.” You can read the full article here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/ea/downloads/2015/slf-berks-lehigh-montgomery-pa.pdf

    • Samantha Williams 6:15 PM 1 October 2017

      Thanks for that bit of info

  3. Gary 10:04 AM 27 September 2017

    Will the adult flies kill my trees

  4. Mary Kinkead 3:58 PM 30 September 2017

    My maple tree is infested with JLF…kill 100 and 100 return. Not on any other maples or other trees in the area. Rising to the top afraid eggs are unreachable…Gilbertsville Pa 19525 suggestions?

    • Samantha Williams 6:21 PM 1 October 2017

      What are you using?

    • Jack Foell` 4:33 AM 2 October 2017

      Mary, I have the same problem in Gilberstville as well, so far only 2 of my maples are infested, I’m going to pick up some Sevin concentrate and spray them tonight, good luck!

    • Bill heller 10:22 AM 6 October 2017

      I’ve got the same problem in same area

  5. Dan 8:35 AM 1 October 2017

    Yes Gary, they will kill your trees.

  6. Melissa Visconti 1:53 PM 8 October 2017

    I too have the same problem. I’m terrified they will kill my silver maple tree. I will try the seven spray too. Hopefully it works. My tree is at least 100 ft. tall with thousands of SLF all over it. Birdsboro, PA

    • Samantha Williams 7:01 PM 8 October 2017

      Yes, it a try. You can also try the suggestions in the article. All the best!

  7. Connie 6:56 PM 8 October 2017

    Yes we have them very bad here east of Birdsboro, PA. Our woods out back are loaded with the tree of Heaven, that have thousands of the flies on them, spreading to only our silver maples in our yard. Hopefully they won’t go after the oaks!

    • Samantha Williams 7:00 PM 8 October 2017

      Yes, they are horrible and appear in large numbers. Take precautions to ensure they don’t spread

  8. Steven Ferrill 3:26 PM 10 October 2017

    I just noticed all the trees in hunters run development are infested , gotta be over 400 trees ,Exeter pa I used a solution of 50/50 dawn dish soap and water , sprayed the tree with one of those miracle grow attachments for the hose , they died I guess they suffocated , but there back , but my trees are clean ,,,all kidding aside we gotta get rid of the bastards ,call your state rep ✌️

  9. mark jackson 2:32 PM 29 October 2017

    i have a propane torch that lights em up as far as i can reach. i dont burn the wood i just blast them they fall and then hit em again.

  10. Marian 6:33 PM 31 October 2017

    What happens when you call to report that your property is infested, does the government supply any resources so the Land owner can try to kill them? Or do they just add you to the list. I have been reading alt of information but it s so confusing nothing I saw says use the product n the ground around tree which tree obsorbs and bugs eat ad die ( it will not harm tree) ( ort will also kill Tree) or use this product to spray directly on bug , ???

  11. Barbara 9:50 AM 2 June 2018

    Is there an organic spray that is effective

    • Diane 3:04 PM 23 June 2018

      I have found Safer incect killing soap w seaweed extract. It is potassium salt based. Works on adults and black w white spotted nymphs (unless they jump). I cut off the branches that have larvae on them and burn them in the fire pit. Tree tangly for is a petroleum based sticky solution that seems to work for the jumping nymphs. I am going to try the tree tangly foot on a paper wrap for what ever adults I find. They also seem to like birch, willow and Virginia creeper vines. I have been using them as my trap trees.

  12. Jane 6:40 AM 17 June 2018

    Can anyone tell me how to make a spray with alcohol to kill the SLF?
    We are infested in pretty heavily in Gilbertsville.

    • Chyrece 12:51 PM 12 October 2018

      Late to the game here, but I’ve been killing them with rubbing alcohol. Put it in a spray bottle and spray them and they die pretty quickly. Be careful though, because these suckers jump!

  13. Stephen Panfile 5:01 PM 19 June 2018

    Just killed Like twenty five nymps..kept appearing on my deck. Went out back and found them hanging out on my rose bush…ant and cockroach spray worked well.

    • Emerald 3:46 AM 29 August 2018

      You shouldn’t use those sprays. They’re toxic and harm beneficial insects and can be harmful to wildlife. Also, those commercial bug sprays can be toxic to humans as well.

  14. Pam 5:58 PM 10 July 2018

    Can I wrap tree with duck tape sticky side out? How high should it be off the ground?

  15. Julie 3:43 AM 15 July 2018

    Hello, did anyone have any luck with theirs sprays ? I’m in Stowe pa and several of my trees are infested with the SLF I had seen a few heat and there but yesterday my daughter pointed out the trees and there everywhere! I left messages with the DOA but am hoping there is something that is working I can purchase ?

  16. Patricia Brauner 11:12 AM 18 July 2018

    I have them mostly in my vegetable garden….any help would be appreciated.

  17. Stephen panfile 5:00 AM 21 July 2018

    Pulled out two tree of heavens ALong wooded perimeter in Schwenksville PA., only to find 20 more trees infested with them… Situation seems dire.

  18. April 12:27 PM 23 July 2018

    I have wrapped duct tape and it works you can go as low or high as you want we have duct tape on our deck , trees etc

  19. Katie 4:05 PM 4 August 2018

    They are on my 3 brand new willow trees. I have been drowning them with a hose. They cannot survive in the cold. But we did just tape the trees today. Hopefully that works. Going to spray the trees and lawn with deep woods. I heard that works. Stowe,Pa

  20. Barbara Klinger 3:36 PM 7 August 2018

    I keep finding them dead in my pool skimmer basket. I’m in West Rockhill, PA. Can I spray them with anything to kill them if they are still alive?

  21. Benny 4:31 PM 8 August 2018

    It seems as if my entire property is infested with the SLF. As far as trees go, the only tree I have is a HUGE sycamore, smack dab in the middle of my yard. Would this be the tree they are attacking?

  22. Michele 7:51 AM 14 August 2018

    Heavily invested in Emmaus PA. I have no trees in my yard, but I am by woods. They must have laid eggs by my door, can’t even walk outside without seeing 20 or 30 at a shot. Has anyone had any luck with Sevin? With all the heavy rain this summer, it’s hard to spray anything

  23. Lance 10:35 AM 14 August 2018

    Have them in Pottstown borough
    Destroyed my antique rose. They pop and fly so quickly. Has anyone found simple Raid bee spray as a good contact killer? Will be searching and scraping this fall for sure. This is war.

  24. Sean 4:18 PM 19 August 2018

    Found several here in Reading PA. I have a colleague that works in crop insurance give me a few tips:
    1) duct tape the tree trunk sticky side out. I tried this and the sticky side remains sticky for 2-4 weeks
    2) dawn and soap solution works to kill the bugs. We have killed about 50. However they keep coming back
    3). Educate neighbors about them. The more people killing them, the better.

    I have my doubts about how these things are going to take over. It seems i have been slaughtering them constantly but it seems like a losing effort. I have not found a host tree yet. This article was VERY helpful. Good luck everyone

  25. Kris 10:37 AM 23 August 2018

    surfactant is soap – palmolive or dawn works really well for this I have been told at the hardware store. Since alcohol also works with killing the eggs and larve, I would add some rubbing alcohol to the mix along with water and some neem oil if you can get some – equal portions of each should do the trick. Use the miracle grow sprayer as another poster suggested (brilliant idea!) and just keep spraying your trees.
    Yes – the seven spray will work but that stuff is HIGHLY DANGEROUS and should only be used as a last resort.
    I think what will really help is tackling the eggs that are laid at the cold snaps – scraping them off and burning them or soaking them in alcohol – the more eggs that are killed, the fewer that will hatch and be an issue next year.

    Spiders and Praying Mantis like to eat them – you can get Praying Mantis coccoons from Amazon and wait for them to hatch (check on google to find out the when they hatch to decide when to purchse) and let them feast to their hearts content next year to clean up any that get past your efforts this year.

    Good luck everyone!

  26. Kathy 2:46 PM 23 August 2018

    Killed hundreds and they Sri keep coming back on one side of my house any suggestions Pottsgrove pa

  27. Charlie 1:12 PM 25 August 2018

    Here in Stowe I wrapped my maple tree late yesterday with the yellow wrap that I bought stuff TSC in Boyertown. It’s loaded with lantern flys. Some are walking over the stuck flys and they only get stuck a little bit and they pop off.

  28. Alan Kenney 9:35 AM 26 August 2018

    Spray with NEEM OIL as needed using a pump-up sprayer. Hit infested trees and other areas in April & May.

  29. Amanda Zellers 12:44 PM 26 August 2018

    Isophrophal (rubbing) alcohol, 91 percent or higher also kills them. We fill a spray bottle and give them two good sprits and the keel over dead soon afterwards. Sometimes they jump with the first hit, but the alcohol does something that they don’t go far, especially if you got them good with the first sprits, and if you seen where they went, you spray them again. We’ve killed hundreds.

    • chander s sem 9:31 AM 26 September 2018

      what is mix ratio of alcohol and water.

  30. JoAnn 2:41 PM 26 August 2018

    I have heard that while the sticky tape is effective to trap the nymphs, it is devastating to birds who may land on it. They also stick to the tape and lose their feathers trying to get away.

  31. Marybeth Yannessa 6:54 AM 27 August 2018

    We have them in Lower Pottsgrove but have a massive hornets nest outside our house and they seem to be killing them from the Maple Tree. At work in North Coventry there must be hundreds that are on our building with no trees around.

  32. Sebastian 5:30 AM 28 August 2018

    I found it effective

  33. Linda Badman 1:49 PM 12 September 2018

    I have hundreds of them ..their even in my bushs they jump from place to place evendors on my patio furniture.I had to wash all my garden ornaments they were so sticky and then it rained and put mud on them I put them away till next year. I sware if you kill one their family shows up for the funeral. If I walk in the grass they jump on me.I’ve been going threw 4 ca n s of raid a week. My next try is going to hairspray it will stick them together and they won’t be able to fly. Plus it’s cheaper.what makes me mad is we are trying every thing.in the book but my neighors are doing nothing. I frrl like giving up well gl to all of you they r getting bigger by the day

  34. Bz 1:02 PM 15 September 2018

    Today is first day to see them- flying in like embers of a campfire – consistent landing on our huge healthy pin oak – so sad

  35. Gina 10:06 AM 17 September 2018

    Has anyoe had 100’s on their deck windows. I have 100’s only on my deck windows and not my neighbors. I have a TREX deck…do you think they are attracted to the wood? I’m wondering why they keep hanging on the window screens?

  36. Tom 4:56 PM 21 September 2018

    We have tons of them in Bowmansville. They are all over the place. Hundreds on our property, a 1/2 acre. They like our silver maple, river birch and willow trees. Trying Sevin today. Hopefully.

  37. Erica 12:19 PM 26 September 2018

    @Gina, they’ve been hanging out on my deck too! It’s ridiculous and so frustrating! I’m ready to go outside with my deck sprayer and kill them all! Does anyone know if the rubbing alcohol will damage deck furniture?

  38. Frank 11:03 AM 29 September 2018

    In Limerick, i’ve Squashed hundreds every weekend. They seem to like the shady side of the house on the foundation. Today is by dear the worst. Was thinking of filling a shop vac with a soap and alcohol solution and sucking the suckers up. Drown them in the tank.

  39. Charlene Riccio 6:32 PM 2 October 2018

    We live in Elverson and have witnessed many throughout our grounds. I have a birch tree that I am concerned about, but time will tell if it has been severly damaged by these horrible insects. We’ve used what Amanda has used . . . 91% alcohol. Seems to work on many as they climb our sun room windows and screens. Actually, we find it to be helpful with our target practice!

  40. A.L. 9:32 AM 8 October 2018

    They have been swarming all summer. There is a big beautiful silver maple where I live. Many of the branches are already dead, and the lanterflies cluster around some of the live branches. Maybe they are feeding; I am concerned they are laying eggs on these higher up branches. I do not want them to kill this beautiful tree. Recommendations?

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