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PLNA e-News: Plants, Pests & Diseases

NOW is the Best Time to Help Prevent the Spread of Spotted Lanternfly

Friday, February 16, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cathy Corrigan
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On November 3, the PA Department of Agriculture expanded the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) quarantine area from municipal level to county-wide level and added seven additional counties.  The counties in the quarantine include Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

 Even though your county may not be listed it does not mean that this pest will not present itself this spring when egg masses start hatching.  The lanternfly was so invasive in southeast PA in Fall 2017 that the likelihood of adults catching a ride or laying eggs on vehicles or objects moving across Pennsylvania is high.

This invasive pest from China has become 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.  PDA has found that this pest will feed on 70 different species of plants, shrubs and trees.  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


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.

Right now we are in the egg mass stage. Fortunately, the life cycle is one generation per year so finding and scraping egg masses is key in population control.  PDA and Penn State Extension is urging that every business in the green industry take some time to inspect their fields, trucks and trailers, equipment, and products including pavers and stone for egg masses during this dormant stage.  This pest is not particular in where it chooses to lay eggs; any solid surface is fair game and not just the visible surface but the underside too. The egg mass poses, perhaps, the greatest risk for accidental transport of the Spotted Lanternfly to new areas.




 “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.”  The impact to the Nursery and Landscape industry could be as much as $944 million if the spread continues.


What You Can Do

Walk Your Property and Scrape Egg Masses – Look for egg masses on trees and other items throughout your property.  Egg masses have been found on various species including ornamentals.  While the spotted lanternfly (SLF) prefers the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) for part of its life cycle, the bug is not particular in where is chooses to lay eggs. Egg masses look like a smear of mud with a waxy covering.  Eventually masses will dry and crack. A female can produce up to 200 eggs, and there can be 30 – 50 eggs in each mass.

Egg masses may be in protected areas such under loose bark or protected areas with gaps. Many egg masses are located on the south side of a tree/object and underneath branches.

At this time there are no known products to kill egg masses other than scraping.  When you scrape be sure to scrape downward into a vile containing a small amount of alcohol or hand sanitizer to be sure to kill the eggs.

Remove Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus) - 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is now recommending that tree of heaven be removed as one of several control methods for spotted lanternfly. 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 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.  Visit

Inspect Vehicles and Materials -  Trucks, trailers, equipment, pots, bags of soil/mulch, pavers, stone – actually any products kept outside are prime real estate for egg masses especially if parked under tree lines where the adults were feeding. 



Landscape Contractors – Here is the opportunity to grow your business. Are there commercial sites in your service area with masses of Ailanthus where this nasty pest may be hiding? Use your expertise as a professional with knowledge of how to prevent this bug from becoming a nuisance to the property owner to your advantage. 

ALL Green Industry Businesses – If you are located in the Quarantine area, please enter into a Compliance Agreement for Spotted Lanternfly with PDA.  A compliance agreement states that you know how to follow the rules of the quarantine order and agree to do all you can to ensure that the items you transport are not carrying SLF. The PDA is maintaining a list of companies who have set up compliance agreements on PDA’s website and people check this list to find companies who are in compliance. You will also receive documentation to share with your customers to show that you have a compliance agreement with the PDA. Contact your regional PDA office for more information.


If you find an egg mass in a county outside the quarantine area, contact PDA by emailing or call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-866-253-7189. 

For more information on the quarantine order and details on the Spotted Lanternfly visit

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