Spotted Lanternfly Alert

Spring is only a few weeks off, time for milder weather, our sleeping gardens to reawaken and most likely the arrival of another invasion of lanternflies. These nasty critters first appeared in Palisades last April. A native of China, the spotted lanternfly was first discovered in the U.S. back in 2014 in the shipyards in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The small immature nymphs, black with white spots, transform in July into inch-long adults. At this time their appearance changes to red and black, their grayish forewings now dotted in black. The female lays between 30 to 50 eggs at a time that overwinter on the bark of trees.

The lanternflies, which can fly short distances, attach themselves to outdoor furniture, rocks, firewood and moving vehicles, one of ways that has facilitated their spreading. They are strong jumpers, making stomping on them a challenge as you may have discovered.

Their favorite thing is to suck the sap from Trees of Heaven, an invasive Chinese species that grows abundantly along the Palisades Parkway. It closely resembles staghorn sumac. They also feed on more than 70 species of fruit, ornamental and woody trees as well as grains, and vegetables. If you discover oozing sap or tiny open wounds on tree trunks, Penn State Extension advises using circle traps around trees to control them or insecticidal soap, which doesn’t stay in the environment for long, to kill them.