Spotted lantern flies take over; Invasive species begins to kill plants

Marissa Altenburg, H/S Editor

     The Spotted Lantern Fly is an invasive planthopper. It is native to certain parts of Southeast Asia according to Penn State Extension.  It feeds on the sap of trees and can damage or even kill the tree. 

     “They feed on over 70+ plants, including important forestry and agricultural crops. The most damage to-date has been observed in vineyards, ornamental nurseries, and people’s backyards, “ says Penn State Ex. 

     The bugs came over from Stone, China. They started to arrive in America in 2014 in a shipment to Pennsylvania. Now they are detected in 11 eastern states. The Spotted Lantern Fly can lay anywhere between 30-50 eggs at once. They are said by some to look greyish or like rice pudding. If you see the eggs you should kill them all according to Penn.

     Any healthy and established ornamental trees that are non sap producing and even some that are are able to withstand the  infestation of the flies. Smaller non-established trees that need their sap to grow are not able to make it through this infestation.

According to Penn the most loved types of trees are the black walnut and maple. The bugs will all populate around these trees and suck out the sap. Because of the vast amount of them all living off the tree, without proper protection the tree can die off. 

     Science teacher Brady Green says he noticed an increase of the bugs around the school and tries to kill all the ones he sees.  He adds that the most effective way to catch them is to use sticky traps. When the bug suck the sap off the trees they “ can kill the tree but they can also weaken and stress the plant making them more vulnerable to disease, said Green.” 

      In terms of treating your trees with pesticides for the SLF has no “catch all answer” according to Penn State. It all depends on how many trees you have and the risk that your trees have. If you know that you are a target amount of trees it’s best to let nature take its course but if you have a few to protect it could be useful to save them. 

     The department of agriculture in many states has issued a kill policy to ensure that there are less trees killed.The bugs are also known to leave a slimy trail that will attract other pests to the tree.

          The tree that all the bugs spawn off of is called the tree of heaven. It is best to chop off the infected area. Other successful ways to get rid of them are neem oil, vinegar, vacuuming them, sticky traps, scraping of the eggs, and soap and water.