This time last year, our team was earning their Spotted Lanternfly Permit Training completion certificates through the Penn State Extension. At the time, Bucks County was in the quarantine zone but we really hadn’t seen any signs in Lower Bucks County.
If you haven’t heard, the destructive, invasive pest known as the Spotted Lanternfly was first confirmed in Berks County on September, 22, 2014 by The Pennsylvania and US Department of Agriculture. It’s believed they slipped into Southeastern Pennsylvania from Southeastern Asia around 2012 and went undetected feeding and multiplying. Spotted Lanternflies are a huge threat to Pennsylvania’s agriculture and natural resources. In fact, it is now confirmed in 14 counties in PA. It is so important for us to find ways to get rid of them and keep them from entering new territory.
HOW TO STOP SPOTTED LANTERNFLIES:
The first steps taken to try to contain the invaders was to set up quarantine zones, first by township but as the species started to spread they switched to naming whole counties. Everyone was advised to check their cars before driving out of a quarantine zone, as these pests are great hitchhikers and is likely the reason they have spread to such a vast area, and kill any that are seen. Scientists tested different pesticides and plans of action, such as tree banding and removing the Tree of Heaven, to try to terminate them. The hardest part is the time it takes to see if these strategies work, which also allows more time for the Spotted Lanternflies to destroy and multiple.
Last year, on October 19, 2018, a large number of dead Spotted Lanternflies were found in Antietam Lake Park in Lower Alsace Township. Researchers from Cornell University discovered that they had died from two fungi that naturally grow in Pennsylvania: Beauveria Bassiana(Beauveria) and Batkoa Major(B.major). Scientists found that 97% of the Spotted Lanternflies found on the trees were killed by Beauveria. As for the ones found on the ground, a little less than half were killed by Beauveria and the rest by B. major.
Spotted Lanternflies do not have any natural predators in the US like they do in their native home of Asia. They are able to move around, eat, and multiple without watching their back. Scientists are now importing wasps from China that help keep the SLF population under control across the sea. Two species have been brought to Delaware and are under tight security so they can’t escape while researchers test their theory. These wasps lay their eggs inside baby lanterflies and essentially eat the fly from the inside out. More testing is needed to make sure it is worth introducing another invasive species. Could they possible attack other native US species or agriculture?
YES, YOU SHOULD KILL SPOTTED LANTERNFLIES. HOW TO KILL THE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY:
I’ll never forget the first time I saw a spotted lanternfly. I was at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA and one landed on my son’s stroller. Then I saw another on my car when I came out of my son’s appointment at CHOP Chalfont, PA. It’s all too real now seeing people in Lower Bucks County posting pictures of sightings in our local towns.
Researchers still need our help! Spotted Lanternflies are currently in their adult states through December and have even started laying their egg masses this month. If you see any egg masses on trees, or anywhere, scrape them into a ziplock bag and pure rubbing alcohol on them to destroy them. You can pick up your FREE Spotted Lanternfly kit that includes all the materials you’ll need, along with information at Rick’s Expert Tree Service 1907 Bensalem Blvd, Bensalem, PA 19020 or Bensalem’s Fall Fest, Saturday, October 5th from the Rick’s Expert Tree Service tent. Please destroy them and any adults you may find. Check your vehicles before you leave so you do not transport them to other areas.
Keep a look out for upcoming blogs with more information on Spotted Lanternflies and how you can help fight the crisis, along with other updates to help keep our trees thriving and beautiful.
~ Amanda Logan