The Spotted Lanternfly is a destructive insect that has invaded the Philadelphia area. All winter long, their eggs lay waiting for the warm weather, carefully encased in a protective, hardened layer of secretion. Now that they’ve emerge as nymphs, it’s time to take action! Read on to find out how to identify and combat Spotted Lanternfly in the Nymph stages.
How to Identify Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs
Spotted Lanternfly goes through several identities during its life cycle. Adult females lay eggs in the fall, and they cover the egg masses in a secretion. This secretion dries hard and camouflages to look like dirt or clay. The young nymphs that emerge from the eggs in spring are black with white spots. In early summer, they gain red markings on their bodies. Later in midsummer, they become adults and shed their skin to form wings on their backs.
How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs
The experts at SavATree have been working closely with Penn State University’s Department of Entomology and Cooperative Extension to determine the best treatments and techniques for combating Spotted Lanternfly in each of the life cycle stages. Chemical spray treatments are only recommended if there are high populations of nymphs on a specific plant or tree.
Are Treatments Available to Control Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs?
Research shows that the best time to control Spotted Lanterfly is at the adult stage. However, there is an exception. Nymph control may be warranted if the population is high enough to cause feeding damage (wilting stems). Or, if Nymphs are focusing heavily on individual plants. In these cases, your Arborist can evaluate the situation and determine if targeted treatment is required.
Here’s why control of Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs is usually not warranted. Nymphs love to move around and don’t stay on a single plant for long. To reach all the plants that might attract nymphs, your entire yard would have to be treated with a long, residual contact spray insecticide. Even with these treatments, nymphs can still invade from other locations!
Also, although insecticide will kill Nymphs, it can also kill beneficial insects and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. The insect experts at SavATree prefer to use these types of sprays for targeted control, not broad scale treatments.
What’s the Solution for Controlling Spotted Lanterfly Nymphs?
Ultimately, the best way to combat Spotted Lanternfly during the Nymph Stage is with manual methods. Sticky bands, Circle Traps, and good old fashioned squishing are key to getting ahead of these awful insects before they reach adulthood!
According to Penn State:
“Currently, the most effective trap for SLF is a sticky band wrapped around the trunks of trees. SLF nymphs and adults are trapped in the sticky barrier as they crawl up from the ground onto the trunks and move upward to feed on the tree.”
Sticky bands can be found at most hardware stores and also on Amazon.com. They are easy to install, but they should be changed weekly for the best results. However, it is important to be aware that these sticky bands can accidentally trap other insects and also small animals and birds. To avoid this problem, Penn State recommends cutting the sticky bands lengthwise so the surface area is not as broad. Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs are small and climb up the tree. They will get trapped at the bottom of the sticky band, so there is no need to have such a tall band. Penn State also urges homeowners to wrap the outside of the tree with chicken wire over the area of the sticky band. This will prevent squirrels, birds, and other small animals from becoming stuck to the band.
Alternative Solution to Trap SLF
If you’re concerned about trapping small animals and other wildlife in sticky bands, Penn State offers an alternative solution:
“Recent research has shown that an entirely different kind of type of trap is also very effective and can dramatically reduce the chances of capturing other creatures. This new style trap is made of plastic-coated insect screening and does not use any sticky material at all. It is basically a tunnel that SLFs walk into. When they move upward in the trap, they end up in a dead-end collection container where they die.”
Nymphs Are a Warning Sign to Take Action
Equally important, recognize that the Nymphs are an early warning sign to get prepared for the swarms. By July or August, the Nymphs will turn into Adults. That’s when the real trouble begins. It’s also the time when control is most effective. Adults don’t move around as much and tend to attack specific trees. As a result, we can target the high risk trees and protect them from Spotted Lanternfly.
Researchers are anticipating a major infestation of Spotted Lanternfly this season. Once the adults begin to swarm, we expect demand for treatment to surge and exceed our capacity.
If you are seeing Nymphs now or have high risk trees such as Maples or Willows, take action.