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get rid of spotted lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly is an eye-catching insect. It has beautiful red and spotted wings. It doesn’t bite or sting. However, it’s an invasive species. Like most invasive species, they ruin the ecosystems they attack.

This invasive insect primarily targets farms and crops. Every year, farmers across the US have to spend thousands of dollars on spotted lanternfly treatment. Not eradicating these pests from their properties results in even bigger losses for farmers and property owners.

Why Spotted Lanternflies are Dangerous

Spotted lanternflies are destructive and invasive pests. They threaten all types of plants – from crops to timber fields to the plants in residential backyards.

  • These insects excrete “honeydew,” a sweet and sticky substance. The insects excrete this substance while feeding on tree sap. Even worse, the insects damage their hosts (the trees) by causing wilting, leaf curling, and oozing sap from trunks.
  • Honeydew can stick to all types of surfaces – outdoor cooking equipment, homes, cars, decks, etc., and not just tree trunks.
  • This excrement encourages the growth of sooty mold — a dangerous type of fungus that can kill trees and cause branch dieback. Honeydew also attracts swarms of bees and wasps – pests that are also lethal to crops and trees.
  • In Pennsylvania alone, the agricultural harm these insects caused cost, local farmers and homeowners, over $300 million.

Preventing Spotted Lanternfly Attacks

There’s no surefire way of preventing spotted lanternflies from moving onto your property. These insects are very mobile. They cause damage very quickly. Property owners can only control and manage these insects.

The first step of effective lanternfly control is learning how to identify honeydew, the sugary water these insects excrete. Honeydew excretion leads to the creation of sugary surfaces on tree trunks.

These surfaces invite the growth of black sooty mold. This mold can be lethal for plants and crops. So, property owners must always look out for signs of honeydew extracts on their outdoor plants, crops, equipment, and other items.

They must also look out for black sooty mold growth or spotted lanternflies on their properties. Property owners must always report the sightings to their local department of agriculture.

Managing Spotted Lanternfly Attacks

Controlling the spotted lanternflyis not easy. From late fall to early spring, these insects lay eggs in masses. They can lay egg massesinside or underneath cars, on outdoor equipment (e.g., grills), outdoor furniture items, etc.

If you park your car under a spotted lanternfly-infested tree, your car may get infected as well. Thankfully, experts of lanternfly removal near me have recommended some simple ways to manage spotted lanternfly risks –

Remove the Hosts

Tree-of-heaven is the preferred host of spotted lanternflies. It’s an invasive plant that’s commonly found in disturbed areas like along the sides of roads. Property owners must ensure that this tree species isn’t present on their properties.

Tree-of-heaven spreads fast. It can spread by seed or produce “clones” via its roots. To eliminate this invasive tree, property owners must –

  •  Apply herbicide to every tree of heaven on the property from July to September.
  • Multiple applications of herbicide over the period of 30 days may be necessary to completely kill the trees.
  • After removing every tree of heaven on the property, owners must look for other potential host plants for the insects. Spotted lanternflies also grow on wild grape and oriental bittersweet plants. They should also be removed.

Eliminate the Eggs

In the summer months, fighting spotted lanternflies is every farmer’s main priority. During the winter, these bugs don’t pose direct threats. But, from September to May, they lay eggs. Spotted lanternfly eggslook like brown, scab-like growths on tree trunks.

They can also be found on other flat surfaces outdoors (fence posts, cement blocks, etc.). Eliminating these egg masses is very important. Use a knife to scrape these eggs off their surface. You can also smash or burn the egg masses.

Sticky Bands

Attach sticky bands on the surfaces of every tree on the property that’s infected by these insects. When spotted lanternfly nymphs hatch from their eggs, they walk up and down the tree surfaces in search of food. By attaching sticky tape to the tree trunks, you can trap and kill the nymphs.

Eliminating Spotted Lanternflies

If you cannot control and prevent spotted lanternflies, eliminating them with insecticides is the last option. There are two ways of doing this –

Soil or Tree Injection

Professional arborists and pest control service providers can provide soil or tree injections for spotted lanternflyinfestations. In this process, insecticides are delivered to the trees or shrubs that are the most susceptible to spotted lanternfly attacks.

Arborists apply insecticides to the roots of the plants. The insecticides then travel from the roots to the other parts of the plants.

  • Soil or tree injection is carried out in the spring (mid-March to May).
  •  The injected insecticides don’t wash off in the rain. The insects stay away from the treated trees and shrubs.
  • Some lanternflies may continue to harbor injected plants. But, the size of the insect’s population drops massively.
  • Once the leaves of the treated trees and shrubs grow to their full sizes, the injections are fully effective anymore. This happens at the start of June.

Soil or tree injections are also used to distribute fertilizers and nutrients to the roots of plants. That’s why most farmers are aware of this procedure. However, late in the harvest season, the injected plants lose their ability to indirectly kill or harm the spotted lanternflies.

Hence, in the months of June, July, and August, the plants are again exposed to infestation threats. That’s where another lanternfly removaltechnique comes in handy.

Lanternfly Sprays

Arborists and pest management experts apply lantern fly sprayto the at-risk trees’ and plants’ leaves. There are many types of insecticides used as lanternfly sprays. Only an expert can determine which insecticides are appropriate to treat the spotted lanternflies in a specific location.

Lanternfly spray works fast, provides immediate results, and continues to yield results long after the initial treatments. However, spraying isn’t always possible on certain crops and farms.

Final Take

Spotted lanternfly treatment continues to be a complex process. Without strategic control, prevention, and elimination tactics, it’s impossible to rid your property completely of these invasive pests.

That’s why being proactive and scheduling early meetings with arborists and pest management experts is very important. Start controlling the spotted lanternfly long before it makes a major issue. Only then you can cost-effectively eliminate this pest.

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Steve Farrelly

As a lifelong Westchester resident, Steve Farrelly serves as the founder and President of Emerald Tree and Shrub Care Company. As an avid sportsman who enjoys fishing, swimming and more, he was inspired to start Emerald after witnessing various irresponsible acts taking place throughout the Long Island Sound.

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