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PLNA e-News: Plants, Pests & Diseases

PDA Needs Landscape Contractors to Help with Spotted Lanternfly Control

Monday, November 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) has invaded six Southeast Pennsylvania counties and threatens to spread across Pennsylvania and up and down the U.S. East Coast.  

On November 3, the PA Department of Agriculture expanded the quarantine area from municipal level to county-wide level and added seven additional counties.  The original quarantine was in municipalities in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties.  The expansion now includes Carbon, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Monroe, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties.  The insect has not been confirmed in these new counties however, there is a high risk of rapid spread to these areas.  

The invasive pest from China is a threat to outdoor living which is very apparent in the counties where it has invaded. The bugs gather in masses in trees, on hard surfaces such as houses and, although they don’t bite, are attracted to and land on people who are in their midst.  As it attacks vineyards, vegetable and fruit crops, soybeans and other agronomic crops the SLF literally rain “honey dew,” a sticky excretion that promotes the growth of sooty mold that is found everywhere it lands. These surfaces turn black as the mold colonies grow.

“Eradicating the Spotted Lanternfly is important not only for our citizens, but for our economy, as well,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “This invasive insect threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities here like apples, grapes and hardwoods, inflicting a devastating impact on the livelihoods of our producers and businesses. It’s also undermining the quality of life for Pennsylvanians who are coping with hoards found in many infested areas.”

With the expanded quarantine zone, seasonal changes, and the insect’s life-cycle, the department has shifted its control strategies, enlisting additional support from local, state, and federal agencies and universities. During summer months, control efforts focused on eliminating insects and Ailanthus trees, or the Tree of Heaven, where the Spotted Lanternflies prefer to breed and feed. Work crews continue to concentrate on areas that pose the greatest risk for transporting insects, such as railway beds, interstates, and other transportation corridors where the Ailanthus tree grows.

What You Can Do

Removing Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus) - While the spotted lanternfly (SLF) prefers the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) for part of its life cycle, the bug causes damage to fruit and vegetable crops, especially grapes, agronomic crops, native species of trees, including maple, willow, poplar and others. The bug creates crop and tree damage with its piercing mouth parts, sucking the phloem from new growth. Tree branch flagging can be observed shortly after an infestation.

Although scientists are not exactly sure what role tree of heaven plays in the life cycle of the spotted lanternfly, they do suspect that the SLF must have contact with the tree to complete its life cycle.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is now recommending that tree of heaven be removed as one of several control methods for spotted lanternfly. The tree is dioecious, meaning it has both male and female forms. PDA suggests that all trees be cut down and treated with herbicide, except for one or two non-seed producing males to act a trap trees. The trap trees should be treated with a systemic pesticide such as Dinotefuran so that the SLF nymphs and adults come to the tree to feed and are killed by the pesticide.

PDA Needs Your Help - PDA is looking to hire landscape contractors with arboriculture experience and appropriate pesticide licenses to control tree of heaven. For more information on how to become a contractor for tree of heaven removal and control, PDA recommended treatment regimens, and other SLF information, click here.

Look Before You Leave - If you are in an area not currently infested with SLF, SLF can reach you in two ways. First, eggs may be laid on vehicles, pallets, stone, pavers, nursery stock or any hard surface. Second, the live nymphs or adults can hitch a ride. Adult spotted lanternflies were recently found in a crate of apples shipped from within the infested area.

If you have vehicles moving through or are purchasing any materials from within the infested area, be sure to inspect vehicles and materials for live nymphs, adults or egg masses and destroy any that you find.


For more information on the quarantine order and details on the Spotted Lanternfly click here.

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