According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the spotted lanternfly could cost the state thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars per year if efforts are not taken to control the invasive species.
Spotted lanternflies have been bugging Pennsylvanians since they were first discovered in Berks County in 2014.
Since then, they’ve spread throughout two-thirds of the state (or 51 of 67 counties) — all but the state’s northern tier counties and northwest corner.
Not only annoying, the lanternfly causes serious damage to plants, trees, and vines. When they feed, they give off a sugary substance that aids in the growth of black sooty mold.
If not contained, the lanternfly could potentially drain the commonwealth’s economy of $324 million annually and cause the loss of 2,800 jobs. Economists at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences estimated the impact on industries most susceptible to the bugs, including nurseries, vineyards, Christmas tree growers, and hardwood producers.
Depending on how quickly the warm weather unfolds this spring, lanternfly eggs will hatch around the end of April into the beginning of May.
From mid-May into June, lanternflies are non-flying, black-and-white spotted crawlers that can be found on a variety of trees, shrubs, and roses. The bugs then turn red with black patches and white spots in late June through July before turning into the more familiar — and more destructive — flying adults.
There are a variety of options for managing these annoying bugs, but one way to kill a lot of them without using insecticides is to trap them. The immature lanternflies are often blown off the trees and then walk up the trunk of trees to feed again. We can take advantage of this predictable behavior by using traps to catch them as they climb up.
Sticky bands placed around tree trunks have been found to trap spotted lanternflies. Trapping unintended targets, including songbirds and beneficial insects, is a major drawback to this method of control, but you can use a wildlife barrier to greatly reduce the chance of catching other wildlife.
Sticky bands can be purchased at your local hardware store or online. You can also use flypaper, duct tape, and other tacky materials to create a sticky band around the tree.
You should only install sticky bands on trees where you see spotted lanternfly activity.
Follow these steps to catch spotted lanternflies in your backyard using sticky bands and a wildlife barrier:
Place the sticky band about four feet from the ground. Wrap it tightly against the bark of the tree.
Look for and eliminate any gaps at the bottom of the sticky band to prevent lanternflies from climbing up the tree underneath the band.
Secure the tightly wrapped sticky band with staples or pushpins.
Check the sticky band every day to ensure no other animals have been caught. If you have caught another type of animal, do not attempt to free it yourself. Instead, cover the rest of the sticky area with something like tissue paper, remove the trap from the tree, and contact animal control for assistance freeing the trapped animal.
How to Create a Wildlife Barrier
To create an effective wildlife barrier around your sticky band you’ll need flexible window screening and push pins.
Cut a strip of window screening that is about one-and-a-half times the diameter of the tree and about three times as wide as the sticky band.
Attach the window screening to the tree above the sticky band with push pins, pleating it as you attach it so that it stands out from the tree and does not stick to the band.