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Spotted Lanternfly

Learn a few new things about the SLF and what to do to prevent them
Full Adult Male Spotted Lanternfly

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Ailanthus Altissima (Tree of heaven) is their favorite weed tree. or the black walnut tree are the trees of choice for the full life cycle. The SLF will always go back to them after feeding on other trees to reproduce and lay eggs. Here are some trees they are prone to attack: 

  • Tree of heaven (picture below), Birch, Linden, Black Walnut, Willow, Peach, Black Gum, Oak, Maple, American Beech, Dogwood, Sassafras, Tulip Poplar, Apple, Hickory, White Ash, Plum, Pine, Cherry, Grape Vines, Sycamore, as well as others.

Tree of Heaven

 

  1. Egg Stage (September – June) 
Egg mass covered (Left)                          Egg pods (Right)
  • Egg masses will be attached to any flat surface and contain 30-50 eggs. Each female can lay at least 2 of these masses. They are covered in a waxy substance to protect them. Any mass that survives in the winter will hatch out in the spring. 
  1. The Nymph Stages (May – September) 
  • There are 4 sub-stages of the nymphs before they reach an adult. These are the ones who travel by climbing the tree. 
  1. First Instar Stage (May – June) Approximately 1cm, they are black with white spots, this is when they first hatch and start to feed on the trees. 
  1. Second Instar Stage (June – July) Almost 2cm long, they are still black with white spots and longer legs. 
  1. Third Instar Stage (June – July) They have now reached 2cm long and have widened to 1cm with less spots. 
  1. Fourth Instar Stage (July – September) 3-4 cm long, this is where they turn red with white spots. 
  1. Adult Stages (July – December) 
  • This is the final and most destructive stage. This is best controlled with whatever means possible. 
  1. Adult (July – December) This is where they take another drastic turn into the most recognizable stage. They now have wings and are about 1 inch long with a wingspan of 4 inches. 
  1. Egg Laying (September – December)  

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  • There is a dispute on whether or not the SLF fly They are known to glide from the top of houses, telephone poles, etc. They also hop and crawl in earlier stages of the life cycle.
  • Kill the female tree (the one that flowers )and put sticky traps on the male trees for them to crawl on and get trapped. When you remove the tree of heaven, it will try to grow back from the stump so you need to treat that as well with proper herbicide. 
  • SLF feeds on the wood tissue/sap – liquid waste turns into sugar, called honeydew, which weakens the tree making it susceptible to other insect infestations and diseases.   
  • When the honeydew falls to the ground from the SLF, it starts to create a fungus called sooty mold. This is a nuisance for the tree and other surrounding areas but doesn’t kill the tree. About 80-90% of the grapes are destroyed because of the waste from the SLF falling on them.
Sooty Mold

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  • There are different ways to kill the Spotted Lanternfly.  
  1. Score the tree at the base, spray the insecticide solution into the cut and let the tree soak it up. 
  1. Inject the insecticide into the cambium of the tree.  
  1. Preliminary results show insecticides with the active ingredient dinotefuran, imidacloprid, carbaryl, and bifenthrin are effective at controlling the spotted lanternfly. 
  2. Sticky tape around the male tree of heaven

  • Egg masses can be anywhere there is a hard surface including cars and you should always check before you leave. If you find any, remove the egg masses carefully with a scraper, and place into a bag with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. They can also be smashed and burned. 

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Natural predators include praying mantis and some spiders. In their native countries there are more natural predators to keep them in check, but the birds here in North America, don’t seem to be attacking them. There was a study done with chickens to see if they would feed on the SLF, however, they came running to see what the prize was and then turned their backs on them. This seems to indicate that they are unpalatable to birds, but more research is needed beyond the chicken test.

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  • Newly discovered, there are two local fungal pathogens, Batkoa Major and Beauveria Bassiana, that are infecting and killing the SLF. Researchers are finding the dead insects covered in the fungus that is found in the soil. It infects the flies through their exoskeletons and spreading throughout the rest of the body, killing it. 97% of the SLF on tree trunks were killed by B. Major, while 51% of the ones on the ground were killed by B. Bassiana. The rest were killed by B. Major. 

Lanternflies infected by the fungus are compelled to work their way higher up the tree trunk, where they die and the fungus β€œbasically sews them to the tree,”. The elevation becomes advantageous when the fungus bursts from the body of the insect and rains down spores on other lanternflies below.

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To help contain the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, give us a call today! (609) 256-6722

Credits:

Native fungi found to be deadly to invasive pest in Pa.

https://phys.org/news/2019-04-destructive-pest-thwarted-native-fungi.html

https://gotspottedlanternfly.com/about-spotted-lanternfly

https://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20190510/zombie-fungus-proves-deadly-to-spotted-lanternfly

The Life Cycle of Spotted Lanternfly

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