The spotted lanternfly only arrived in Pennsylvania about 5 years ago but has caused serious damage to countless trees. In 2019, large populations of this invasive insect were confirmed in Bucks and Montgomery county.
To help property owners contain and stop the spread of spotted lanternflies, Willow Tree and Landscape Services offers professional tree treatments.
Why Do You Need Spotted Lanternfly Treatment?
Spotted lanternflies are invasive bugs that decrease the quality of life outdoors and for the environment. Here are some reasons why they need to be removed:
- Feeding Damage – Honeydew/Sooty Mold – Adult spotted lanternflies feed by sucking up sap from trees. Most of the sap goes right through them and they deposit the excess sugar water (also called honeydew) in large amounts. The honeydew makes the areas under the tree very sticky and can coat them with sooty mold. This black colored mold is unsightly and can result in damage to the plant.
- Nuisance – These bugs are very annoying! They commonly gather in very large groups.
- Tree Stressors – Researchers have identified that the spotted lanternfly can stress trees and weaken them. There have also been reports of decay and strange growth on trees that had been previously infected by spotted lanternflies.
Do Your Trees Need Spotted Lanternfly Control?
Spotted Lanternflies Identification and Life Cycle
The type of treatment is based on the lifecycle of the spotted lanternfly:
Eggs are laid in the fall and hatch in the spring. The insect is in the nymph stage for much of the spring and summer. These are the small bugs that start out black and white and eventually turn red before turning into adults.
In general, they do not need professional treatment – nymphs are easy to kill. Homeowners can use many products including dish soap and water, neem oil, and many other insecticides. Trunk tape is also an easy way to catch nymphs.
Willow Tree likes to focus treatment on the spotted lanternflies in the adult stage of life. We treat the specific trees they are attracted to with a chemical that goes inside the tree and kills the bugs when they feed.
Adults tend to favor only a few particular trees so they are more predictable in terms of where they will feed. Their strongest preference is for the tree of heaven (also known as the Ailanthus tree), which like the spotted lanternfly, is an invasive species originating from China. Along with grape vines and fruit-bearing trees, some of the common residential trees where the adults are found include:
- Silver maple
- Red maple
- Black Walnut
- River Birch
- Styrax/Japanese Silverbell
How To Treat Adult Spotted Lanternflies
The main chemical Willow Tree uses is Dinotefuran, which is applied via a trunk spray. When sprayed on the lower 5 feet of a trunk, it’s absorbed through the bark and moves through the tree.
For homeowners with kids or pets, this treatment method can also be injected into the base of the tree to avoid spraying the chemicals directly on the trunk.
When insects feed on the treated tree, they ingest the chemical and die.
Scheduling Spotted Lanternfly Treatment
The best time to treat spotted lanternfly is when the adults emerge, which is different every year based on the weather. For 2020, they are predicted to emerge in August.
Treatment will remain in the tree for a maximum of 2 months after application. It cannot be applied if it’s raining or forecasted to rain later in the day.
The adults will die off after the first hard frost in late fall. Due to the timing of their emergence, there will likely be the need for 2 treatments.