Spotted Lanternfly Management
As with any pest, invasive or otherwise, an integrated pest management approach is key to successfully keeping the population in check. Currently, the first tool in the Spotted Lanternfly management plan is stopping the spread of the pest. Spotted lanternfly populations will likely become more established in New York so delaying the infestation provides valuable time to develop management tools needed to implement a successful IPM strategy.
Traps can be useful to catch the spotted lanternfly nymphs and adults as they climb the tree trunk. The traps are best set by early May to capture the nymphs as they emerge from the egg masses. Although a trap may catch large numbers of insects it will not completely prevent spotted lanternfly's presence on that tree. Many egg masses could have been laid in the tree canopy above the trap, and the adult stage can fly into the higher branches without climbing the trunk.
Sticky Band Traps
Sticky band traps encircling the trunk can be effective but they must be accompanied by a barrier to prevent the capture of beneficial insects and animals such as birds. A piece of vinyl window screening secured above the sticky band, secured with push pins at the top and flared out at the bottom several inches below the band can help prevent unintentional catches of other insects and birds.
With no, or low populations, the use of sticky bands on trees, (especially on tree of heaven), act as both a monitoring and a management tool. Sticky bands take advantage of the propensity of this insect, especially the first three instars, to move up and down tree trunks.
If SLF becomes established in an area, sticky bands can’t provide a sole source of management because once they are full, remaining nymphs are far less likely to become stuck. Sticky bands are also less effective on fourth instar nymphs and adults which are either strong enough to walk across bands without getting stuck or avoid them by jumping or flying.
Spotted lanternfly has a habit of moving up and down trees during the day, particularly the first three instars. Because of this movement, sticky bands have been found to play a part in the monitoring and management of this pest.
According to work done in the quarantine zone in Pennsylvania, placing bands about 4 feet from the bottom of a tree has captured this insect both going up and coming down. Stickiness of the band used will determine how effective it is in capturing the various stages of spotted lanternfly.
Early instars are more easily captured using bands that are less sticky but 4th instars and adults of this pest have shown the ability to walk over a less sticky band, or avoid them entirely. However, when choosing the type of band to use, its stickiness is an important consideration as the use of stronger sticky bands can bring the unwanted consequences of capturing beneficial insects and pollinators, squirrels, bats and birds. To limit this type of capture, a narrower band can be used to limit the surface area that is contacted by the larger animals or a cage made of chicken wire can be used to limit unwanted captures. Whatever banding method is used, bands should be monitored on a regular basis (at least once a week). In areas of heavy infestations, captured SLF nymphs can be so abundant that they cover the band, allowing remaining nymphs and adults to just walk over them without getting stuck.
Regular monitoring will also provide the opportunity to more effectively deal with any by-catch if it occurs. If an animal, bat or bird is captured in the sticky band do not attempt to free it yourself. Carefully remove the sticky band and take it to a local wildlife rehabilitation center to avoid risk of injury to you or the accidental capture.
Circle traps consist of screening that encircles the trunk which funnels climbing spotted lanternflies into a container at the top from which they cannot escape. Our friends at Penn State have created a detailed guide on how to build a circle trap.
Destroy Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses
Late fall, after spotted lanternflies are killed by freezing temperatures and before they hatch in May, is a good time to find and destroy spotted lanternfly egg masses. Destruction of spotted lanternfly egg masses can help prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly. With 30 – 50 eggs per egg mass, it’s especially important to inspect anything moving from an area that has an infestation to prevent the spread to a new location.
Finding Egg Masses
Eggs can be found on any hard surface, including plastic, wood, and metal. Check for the egg masses on tree trunks, branches, rocks, lawn furniture, and really anything that's outside. The egg masses are often found on the underside of branches or objects and vary in size, but are typically about 1 1/2" long and and 3/4" wide and look like grayish splotches of mud or putty.
Scraping Egg Masses
Scrape the egg masses into a re-sealable bag that contains rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer and dispose of them in the solution to be assured they will not hatch.
- Scrape egg masses using scraper cards, or anything else that is hard, tapered, and/or flat.
- Kill the eggs by putting them into doubled bags, alcohol/hand sanitizer, or by smashing or burning them.
Because spotted lanterflies lay many egg masses high up in tree canopies, removing egg masses within reach will not eliminate them, but because each egg mass contains up to 50 eggs, it can reduce the numbers, especially early in the season.
Spotted lanternfly can move quickly and jump making hand removal difficult. In some cases elimination of spotted lanterflies by means of a vacuum cleaner may be the way to go! Hand helds, backpack style rechargeables and even big shop vacs all could prove useful in certain settings where the use of pesticides could present problems.
Vacuum carefully to avoid damaging tender plants.
Emptying the Vacuum
Spotted lanternfly usually won’t survive the vacuum process. That might not always be the case so use caution when emptying the vacuum.
You may want to leave the vacuum for a day or two to make sure they are dead before emptying (they can only survive for about two days off of plants). Don’t wait more than a few days to empty it. If left for too long dead spotted lanternfly will decay and a putrid odor should be expected!
All stages of spotted lanternfly have shown susceptibility to the application of insecticides. Bark spray, trunk injections, or root drenches are used to get systemic insecticides into trees.
Pesticide products labeled for use by commercial applicators and residents in New York
Since spotted lanternflies rarely cause damage to landscape trees, treatment is not necessary for the health of the tree; but if they become a nuisance, insecticides can be used. Some people may choose to hire a certified pesticide applicator who is equipped to make a tree injection, bark sprays, or soil drenches.
Working with data developed by researchers at Penn State University, a number of insecticides have been labeled for use in New York provisionally through 2(ee) recommendations and 24(c) Special Local Needs labels. We have compiled a list of insecticides that can be used to manage spotted lanternfly in a variety of settings in NYS.
- Insecticides Labeled for Spotted Lanternfly Registered in New York State for Commercial and Home Garden Use, May 2023 [xlsx]
Please be sure to use the most current version as we will be updating this site to reflect changes and as new materials become labeled for Spotted Lanternfly in New York.
Insecticides for Control of Spotted Lanternfly in Grapes
Wine grape growers in the quarantine zone in Pennsylvania have found that, while insecticides are effective against Spotted Lanternfly, the sheer numbers of this pest entering the vineyard have required multiple applications once adults begin flying in September. Frequent monitoring is important as the distribution in a vineyard can be uneven. Often insecticide treatments are only required for the vines on the margins of the fields.
New York State Approved insecticides ONLY for managing spotted lanternfly in commercial grape production.
Spotted Lanternfly Predators, Parasitoids, and Entomopathogenic Fungi
Predation of spotted lanternfly is occurring in the wild, but not at levels high enough for dependable control.
A fungal pathogen related to the one which helped control spongy moth has also been found, and work is being done to identify and rear this fungus for use as a biocontrol. Research is being conducted at Cornell University to identify additional fungal pathogens for biocontrol of SLF. For example, early work by the Hajck lab at Cornell have found strains of Beauveria sp. attacking both nymphs and adults in Pennsylvania.
Researchers are examining two biocontrol agents found in China, that have evolved in tandem with the spotted lanternfly. The first, Anastatus orientalis, is an egg parasitoid, and the second, Dryinus sp. nr. browni, attacks second and third instar spotted lanternfly nymphs. Due to the presence of these parasitoids, spotted lanternfly in China is only a problem in years that favor population booms. It is hoped that by identifying and developing biocontrol agents, spotted lanternfly populations in the United States can be managed in future years without the current heavy reliance on insecticides.
Spongy Moth Parasitoid
The spongy moth parasitoid, Ooencyrtus kuvanae, was introduced to the United States in 1908. This tiny wasp played a part in controlling spongy moth by laying its eggs in the eggs of spongy moth, but has been found to also parasitize the egg masses of spotted lanternfly. At this point in time populations in the quarantine zone are spotty and parasitism is fairly low at about 7% of available egg masses.
In the Pennsylvania quarantine zone there has been work done using tree of heaven as trap trees. Because tree of heaven has both male and female trees, the female trees are identified and removed to limit the spread of tree of heaven by seed. Males trees are then evaluated and thinned to a manageable number that will allow the remaining trees to be treated with a systemic insecticide. Any spotted lanternfly attracted to the trees will feed, ingest the insecticide, and die. Officials in New York are watching the implementation of this management tool closely to determine long term effects on the population.
As of April 2019, we are not recommending the removal of tree of heaven as a management tool for a number of reasons. Tree of heaven is currently a valuable tool for monitoring of low-level populations. There are questions as to the need of tree of heaven in the life cycle of SLF and if removal of tree of heaven will send Spotted Lanternfly to other, more desirable plants. And most importantly, if tree of heaven is not properly removed, a single tree can turn into a grove of saplings as they can multiply via their root system. If tree of heaven is removed, a registered systemic herbicide should be used to limit regrowth.