COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (WLVT) — If you thought you've seen more of the invasive spotted lanternfly in southeastern Pennsylvania, you’re right.
"The Philadelphia region is a great example. We’re seeing the population skyrocket there and, unfortunately, this is just the beginning," Heather Leach, spotted lanternfly associate for Penn State Extension, told PBS39.
The bugs proliferation is troublesome. The infamous plant and crop killers secrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, which results in mold growth and eventual death. Each year, millions of dollars worth of Pennsylvania’s agriculture is destroyed by the pest.
"The number one crop that has been impacted by the spotted lanternfly is grape vines," said Leach. "The losses that these growers experience is really dramatic. It doesn’t stop there. We’re examining the impact on hops, avocado and fig trees."
CATCH AND KILL
With no natural enemies, Pennsylvania’s crops and forests have been like a buffet for the bug. That's why Pennsylvanians have been asked to kill the invasive spotted lanternfly whenever they spot the insect. Still, it’s not always easy to catch a critter that hops in its nymph stage, and flies as a winged adult.
Emelie Swackhamer, horticulture educator for Penn State Extension in Collegeville, says anyone can make a spotted lanternfly trap. Tree traps catch the critters in their nymph or infant stage and will catch some winged adults, too.
Here's a list of materials you'll need to make a tree trap:
- 1 rectangle of window screen approximately 30" x 23" (plastic-coated screen works better than wire screen). For this demonstration, we used screening left over from a pop-up canopy. Adjust the screen size to fit your tree. The idea is to have the opening of the skirt go around the trunk as far as possible to get the SLF to enter the trap.
- 1 piece of wood approximately 11" x 1' x 0.5" (cut from wooden lath, a yardstick or even two paint stirrers duct-taped together can work)
- 1 piece of wood approximately 18" x 1" x 0.5"
- 32" of sturdy but bendable wire (you can cut this from a thin coat hanger)
- 2 tops of plastic milk jugs
- 1 one-gallon zip-type bag (with more for replacement as the bags fill up)
- Weather-proof, strong duct tape
- Staple gun with short staples (to attach the screening to the wooden strips)
- Office stapler (to tack the screening together)
- Hot glue gun
- 1 zip tie (to attach the zip type bag to the top of the trap)
- 1 piece of twine (to tie the top of the trap to the tree)
- A couple of push pins or a staple gun (to attach the bottom of the screening to the tree)
If you use sticky traps to catch spotted lanternflies, Swackhamer says you’ll need to protect other wildlife from the tape.
"Nobody wants to come out and find that other creatures have been caught, like a bird," explained Swackhamer. "So, if you use the sticky trap method, include some type of netting or chicken wire to protect other wildlife from getting near it."
She says spraying anything other than USDA certified insecticide on or near the bugs in not permitted in Pennsylvania.
A myriad of Pennsylvania counties are under a spotted lanternfly quarantine. That means any items intended to be moved, whether within or outside the quarantine, must be inspected for eggs, nymphs or adult lanternfly, which must then be removed and destroyed before traveling. The quarantine is in effect throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia.
Watch the video version of this story in the player below.