Spot­ted lantern­fly ex­pert pro­vides tips for home man­age­ment of pest

The Boyertown Area Times - - NEWS - From Amy Duke Penn State Ag Science News

With La­bor Day come and gone, many peo­ple are start­ing to dread the thought of cold tem­per­a­tures and snowy days to come.

Yet, for some folks liv­ing in the south­east­ern part of Penn­syl­va­nia, Old Man Win­ter can­not come soon enough so they can have a re­prieve, al­beit a brief one, from the spot­ted lantern­fly, the in­va­sive pest that has marred their spring and sum­mer out­ings.

“The spot­ted lantern­fly has be­come a reg­u­lar fix­ture in their yards, on the front page of their news­pa­pers, in their so­cial me­dia feeds and, some­times, even in their dreams,” said Heather Leach, Penn State’s spot­ted lantern­fly ex­ten­sion as­so­ciate, who has fielded calls from hun­dreds of fraz­zled home­own­ers in the cur­rent 13-county quar­an­tine zone. “They just can­not get a break.”

The pest, which feeds on the sap of fruit trees, grapevines, hops, hard­woods and or­na­men­tals, strikes a dou­ble whammy — not only does it harm host plants but it also can ren­der out­door ar­eas un­us­able by leav­ing be­hind a sug­ary ex­cre­ment called hon­ey­dew, which at­tracts other in­sects and pro­motes the growth of sooty mold. The only con­so­la­tion is that the in­sects do not bite or sting, nor do they cause struc­tural dam­age.

De­spite not be­ing a na­tive species (they are na­tive to cen­tral Asia), the cli­mate in Penn­syl­va­nia is suitable for the spot­ted lantern­fly, and it has es­tab­lished a life cy­cle that com­pletes one gen­er­a­tion each year. It all be­gins now, in late sum­mer, when adults mate and lay eggs — gray­col­ored, flat clus­ters that re­sem­ble mud — on a va­ri­ety of sur­faces.

While those adults do not sur­vive the win­ter, the same does not hold true for their egg masses, which are hardy enough to with­stand bru­tal weather con­di­tions. Those eggs hatch in late spring, re­veal­ing nymphs with black and white spots. As they en­ter their “teens,” most of the in­sect’s black mark­ings will turn red.

By mid-sum­mer, the in­sects will be adults, mea­sur­ing about an inch in length and sport­ing art­fully pat­terned wings of red, black, white and tan, ac­cented by dots. Through­out the trans­for­ma­tion, one thing re­mains con­stant — their vo­ra­cious ap­petite, and that has home­own­ers scram­bling to find ways to con­trol the clus­ters that have taken up res­i­dence on their prop­er­ties.

To aid home­own­ers in re­duc­ing spot­ted lantern­fly pop­u­la­tions, Leach pro­vides the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions based on life cy­cle and sea­son:

De­stroy egg masses/fall, win­ter and spring:

Walk around your prop­erty to check for egg masses on trees, ce­ment blocks, rocks and any other hard sur­face. If you find egg masses on your prop­erty from Septem­ber to April, scrape them off us­ing a plas­tic card or putty knife, and then place the masses into a bag or con­tainer filled with rub­bing al­co­hol or hand san­i­tizer. This is the most ef­fec­tive way to kill the eggs, but you also can smash or burn them, Leach pointed out.

Tree band­ing/spring and sum­mer:

When the nymphs first hatch, they will walk up the trees to feed on the softer new growth of the plant. Leach ad­vises tak­ing ad­van­tage of this be­hav­ior by wrap­ping tree trunks in sticky tape and trap­ping the nymphs. “It is es­sen­tial to band trees in the spring when there are nymphs be­cause many adult spot­ted lantern­flies will avoid the tape,” Leach said.

She also rec­om­mends check­ing the traps on a reg­u­lar ba­sis be­cause, while rare, birds and small mam­mals can be­come stuck to the tape. There are sev­eral ways to avoid this un­for­tu­nate out­come, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing the width of the bands and putting caging over the bands. Bands can be pur­chased from hard­ware or green­house stores and of­ten are sold as fly­pa­per.

Re­moval of tree-ofheaven/spring and sum­mer: While the spot­ted lantern­fly will feast on a va­ri­ety of plant species, they have a spe­cial fond­ness for Ai­lan­thus, or tree-ofheaven, which is an in­va­sive plant that is com­mon in land­scape plant­ings, agri­cul­tural ar­eas and along the sides of roads. For this rea­son, there is a cur­rent push from spot­ted lantern­fly ex­perts to re­move this tree. Leach said the best way to do this is to ap­ply an her­bi­cide to the tree us­ing the hack-and-squirt method — a crit­i­cal step to pre­vent re­growth — and cut­ting it down from July to Septem­ber. Even when treated, mul­ti­ple ap­pli­ca­tions may be nec­es­sary over time to kill the tree, she em­pha­sized.

Use of in­sec­ti­cides/ spring, sum­mer and fall:

When deal­ing with large pop­u­la­tions of the in­sect, home­own­ers may have lit­tle re­course other than to use chem­i­cal con­trol. When used ap­pro­pri­ately, in­sec­ti­cides can be a very ef­fec­tive and safe way to re­duce lantern­fly pop­u­la­tions. Penn State Ex­ten­sion cur­rently is re­search­ing which in­sec­ti­cides are best for con­trol­ling the pest, but pre­lim­i­nary re­sults show in­sec­ti­cides with the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents dinote­fu­ran, im­i­da­clo­prid, car­baryl and bifen­thrin are most ef­fec­tive.

How­ever, there are safety, en­vi­ron­men­tal and some­time reg­u­la­tory con­cerns that go along with the use of in­sec­ti­cides, so Leach ad­vises home­own­ers to do re­search, weigh the pros and cons, and seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice if needed. She warned against the use of home reme­dies such as clean­ing and other house­hold sup­plies as they can be un­safe for hu­mans, pets, wildlife and the plants. In some cases, the ap­pli­ca­tion of home reme­dies may be il­le­gal. Stop the spread: Fi­nally, Leach asks all cit­i­zens to help stop the in­sect’s spread by check­ing their ve­hi­cles closely — un­der­car­riages, wind­shield wipers, wheel wells, lug­gage racks and such — for spot­ted lantern­flies and egg masses be­fore trav­el­ing in and out of the quar­an­tine zone.

“Keep­ing the spot­ted lantern­fly from reach­ing other parts of the state is cru­cial while we work to­ward de­vel­op­ing long-term man­age­ment and con­trol so­lu­tions,” she said. “Ev­ery cit­i­zen can help by learn­ing about the spot­ted lantern­fly and the steps that can help stop it.”

Those steps, as well as a de­tailed in­te­grated pest man­age­ment cal­en­dar, can be found by vis­it­ing the Penn State Ex­ten­sion web­site at https://ex­ten­sion. psu.edu/spot­ted-lantern­fly.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

If you see the spot­ted lantern fly, crush it.

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