A stone shipment in 2012 is thought to have carried a Chinese invasive insect called the spotted lanternfly from China to the United States. Two years after the first infestation was found in Pennsylvania, the lanternfly has since spread to 11 additional states, eating its way through forests, vineyards, and fruit orchards.
Because there are no local predators to control their population, lanternflies cause as much harm as the sponge moth, emerald ash borer, and other foreign species.
The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is a sort of “true bug” that feeds by piercing plant tissue with a stylet (or beak). The adult SLF’s distinctive colors include spotted patterning, red underwings, yellow markings on the abdomen, and tan semi-transparent forewings. Adults are roughly an inch long and are active from late July to late November. The nymph stage manifests in June and July, with startlingly vivid red and black bodies that are speckled with white. Nymphs in their early stages lack the red pigment and are entirely black in color.
How do you get rid of a spotted lanternfly?
There are several steps you can take to get rid of spotted lanternflies:
Remove egg masses: Look for egg masses on trees, fences, and other outdoor surfaces and scrape them off with a putty knife or similar tool. Dispose of the egg masses in a bag or container of soapy water to kill the eggs.
Use traps: There are several types of traps that can be used to attract and capture adult lanternflies, such as sticky bands and traps that use pheromones to attract the insects.
Apply insecticides: If you have a large infestation of spotted lanternflies, you may need to use insecticides to kill them. There are several insecticides that are effective against lanternflies, including neem oil and pyrethrin. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and apply the insecticide according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Prune and remove infested plants: If you have plants that are heavily infested with lanternflies, it may be necessary to prune or remove them. This can help to reduce the population of lanternflies and prevent the infestation from spreading to other plants.
Use physical barriers: Physical barriers such as row covers or netting can be used to protect plants from lanternflies.
It is important to note that it may take several weeks or months to completely eliminate a spotted lanternfly infestation, as the insects can lay eggs multiple times during their lifecycle. It is also important to monitor your plants and trees regularly and take additional steps as needed to control the population.
If you suspect you found a spotted lanternfly
To safeguard the plants and woods of Rhode Island, early detection is essential. Learn how to distinguish between the egg, nymph, and adult life stages of the spotted lanternfly to aid in its prevention. Take a picture and make an effort to gather a specimen if you believe you have discovered a spotted lanternfly. Then, submit a pest alert form to RI DEM with this discovery.