Penn State Extension publication offers guidance on spotted lanternfly management

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — A new publication from Penn State Extension is essential reading for those who want the latest information on the spotted lanternfly.

Written by scientists and extension educators from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the Spotted Lanternfly Management Guide features comprehensive information, illustrations, charts and photos on pest biology, behavior, damage and management, as well as a brief overview of current research.

The spotted lantern is an invasive leafhopper that was first detected in North America in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania. Not only does it feed on more than 70 species of trees and other woody plants, but it can also render outdoor spaces unusable by leaving behind a sugary excrement called honeydew, explained Penn State horticulture educator Emelie Swackhamer. Extension.

“To our disappointment, there have been numerous reports of Spotted Lantern eggs hatching across Pennsylvania,” Swackhamer said, adding that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has expanded the quarantine zone. of the spotted lanternfly to 45 counties in Pennsylvania. “The Mottled Lantern is an insect that takes time, energy and money to manage, especially in heavily infested areas. Those who are faced with this pest for the first time may be worried, but arming yourself with knowledge can help.

This is where the new guide can play an important role. It begins by providing information about the insect, including current distribution and counties under quarantine. The publication also examines the life cycle of the pest, which has four nymphal stages before it becomes an adult. Its appearance changes during the molting process for each stage, noted Amy Korman, a horticulture extension educator based in Northampton County.

“Unless you pay daily attention to changes in this insect’s life stages, its appearance can be confusing and misleading,” said Korman, who noted that the guide contains images of each life stage. . “It is important to identify what happens during the life cycle to accurately assess the effects of management methods.”

The publication provides details of the pest’s feeding and movement behaviors for each life stage and the possible damage populations can cause. While the Mottled Lantern feasts on a variety of plant species – the most common described in the guide – the insect has a fondness for Ailanthus, or tree of the sky, an invasive plant that is common in fencerows and woodlands. undeveloped, along the sides of roads and in residential areas.

How to manage populations?

One of the top questions educators hear from citizens and answered by the guide is, “How can I control spotted lanternfly populations?” »

The short answer is that there’s no way to completely get rid of Mottled Lanterns, Korman noted. However, the guide provides the latest information on ways to manage spotted lanterns, including an assessment tool that can help people decide if and when to treat spotted lanterns based on population severity and likelihood. plant damage.

“Research is making progress towards finding long-term, safe and effective solutions to the problem,” she said. “In the meantime, there are many methods people can use to reduce spotted lanternflies. Every situation is different, and deciding on a course of action requires everyone to assess their situation and decide what makes sense to them.

Management techniques include mechanical control methods that do not use insecticides. One of these methods is a ring trap, which can capture many mottled lanterns on individual trees; however, they do not prevent Lanterns from moving through a landscape and returning to it.

Circular traps can be purchased off the shelf or can be a DIY project. A detailed guide to building a trap can be found on the Penn State Extension website.

When dealing with large insect populations, citizens may have little recourse other than the use of chemicals. When applied correctly, insecticides can be an effective and safe way to reduce lantern populations.

The most effective insecticides for controlling the pest include those whose active ingredients are natural pyrethrins, bifenthrin carbaryl and dinotefuran. However, there are safety, environmental, and sometimes regulatory issues that come with the use of insecticides, so homeowners should do research, weigh the pros and cons, and seek professional advice if necessary.

Swackhamer also warned against home remedies, such as cleaning and other household supplies, as they can be dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife and plants.

Others at Penn State contributing to the publication were Heather Leach, former associate of the Spotted Lantern Fly Extension; Brian Walsh, Horticultural Extension Educator; Julie Urban, associate research professor in entomology; Greg Krawczyk and David Biddinger, fruit tree research entomologists; Michela Centinari, associate professor of viticulture; Kelli Hoover, professor of entomology; and entomologist Dennis Calvin, former associate dean and director of special programs.

The Spotted Lantern Fly Management Guide is available online. Residents can obtain printed copies by contacting a Penn State Extension county office or by calling 877-345-0691.

Jacob L. Thornton