After a couple of years talking about it, the Spotted Lanternfly has finally hit New Jersey in full force and has been one of the hot topics at my garden center among customers. This blog post is going to be related to the Spotted Lanternfly (SPF) life cycle and identification, host plants, and the best Integrated Pest Management tips. In this article, I will be including charts, links and great information in order for us to work as a team and eradicate this pest.
The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is native to China, India, Taiwan, and Vietnam. They are in the Planthopper family, Fulgoromorpha. Insects in this family have broad wings that rest in a tent shape, they suck nutrients from plants which makes them vectors for plant diseases by weakening the plant, and they also hop for quick transpiration but generally moves really slow. The Spotted Lanternfly has four life stages.
Females SPF lays their eggs between September and November. Once a female SPF lays her eggs, she covers them with a white putty like substance that eventually dries to a brown in a few weeks. It looks like a mud mark on a smooth tree or any smooth surface. Once the eggs hatch, they hatch into the first instar in May and June. An instar is a phase between each molting for an insect or an invertebrate. The Spotted Lanternfly has four instars before reaching maturity. The first first stage is from May to June and they are tiny black bugs with white spots. They molt to the second and third instar between June and July. The SLF gets larger with each instar. The last and finally instar can be found between July and September. They completely change their appearance for this one. They are a red bodied bug with both white and black dots on them. They molt after the fourth instar to their final stage. Mature Spotted Lanternflies can be found from July to December. They have a really beautiful appearance for such a destructive insect. A SLF’s body is black with yellow striping on its abdomen. They have two sets of wings as well. The first set of wings is tan with black dots and the second set of wings has that iconic red with black dots as well as black and white on it. I hear a lot about how beautiful the red coloring on its wings are and I also think it’s beautiful as well.
Spotted Lanternflies have a one year lifecycle with various hosts plants. The most common plant that their eggs are laid on and that they feed off of is the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Ailanthus is the preferred host plant to the Spotted Lanternfly because of the sap content running through the tree. You will find the fourth instar and early/mid aged SPF sucking the sap out of the tree. As the season goes on, there is low sap flow causing the adults to switch to a different source. These other sources are grape vines, hops, silver maples, willows, black walnuts, stone fruits, and apple trees.
There are many types of ways to control the Spotted Lanternflies. A common way is to squish them. You can use double sided tape, a great product that has been recommended by the Penns State is a product called sticky bands. You can read more of that product by pressing the link button at the end of the article. I have been using a list from the United States Department of Agriculture for application products regarding treating Spotted Lanternflies. More knowledge can be found on who to contact and how to control here at the link located at the end of the article through APHIS, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service through the United States Department of Agriculture.
The USDA released a list of chemicals that can kill on contact and leave a chemical residue behind. The chemical residue factor is important because it will still kill insects when they go into that treated area. Insect Killing Soap (Potassium salts) and Pyrethrins are your organic based options. Insect killing soap would be good for larvae and egg sacs because it smothers insects. Pyrethrins are good for on contact kill; it also happens to be my favorite insecticide. Both organic based insecticides have a poor chemical residue. Next we have Malathion, Imidacloprid, and Tau-Fluvalinate. These are non-organic and have a good contact kill and do leave behind a residue. These guys are not my top choices for your non-organic based options but will get the job done. Your Malathion and your Tau-Fluvinate would be on contact kill. Imidacloprid would be ideal for a systemic based treatment in early spring before the eggs hatch and feed off of the tree. Tau-Fluvinate is found in BioAdvance’s 3 in 1 Systemic Control. My number one choice for killing Spotted Lanternflies would be using GardenTech Sevin. Excellent on contact kill and excellent residue status. Both versions of the GardenTech Sevin - Ready to Use and Concentrate have really good ratings. This is the product line that I have been suggesting this to my customers. All the products that I have listed, other than the BioAdvance 3 in 1 and the Sevin, you can get it buy the product lines from Bonide at any Independent Garden Center.
In order to truly to eradicate this pest, we need to make sure we are reporting sightings and doing our part with control - whether it’s trapping, stomping, or applying chemicals. You can find out how to report sightings on the APHIS link below. As we find out more about these insects, the better chance we have to get rid of them. One joy about any science based pursuit is that it is constantly discovering and testing new information. If you need to do any research, look at Land Grant universities or Agricultural Extension Agencies articles. I had a customer say that Spotted Lanternflies are poisonous to cats and dogs because they heard it from someone else’s mouth. I had to debunk it by researching it right away. They are not poisonous to our furry family members. You can find that link also at the end of the article. Moving forward, please use excellent sources while researching any plant pest issue to do your part in control. Do check your cars before and after driving to make sure no Spotted Laternflies are on them. Call an arborist if you want your Tree of Heaven removed and use a Triclopyr based herbicide on your Tree of Heaven if needed. Shop vacs work wonders if you have a huge infestation of these pests, according to my co-worker.
How have you been combating Spotted Lanternflies? Comment below! Thank you so much for reading!