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The Spotted Lanternfly – What You Can Do to Help

close-up photo of spotted lanternfly
What does a spotted lanternfly look like?

It seems like the spotted lanternfly is the farmers’ problem. But these planthoppers will lay their eggs on any flat vertical surface including trees, stones, vehicles, outdoor furniture, or whatever else they can find. They also have their preference of trees but will take whatever they can get – so there’s a chance you could find spotted lanternfly eggs on the apple tree that you’ve had for years.

Spotted lanternflies are also not very strong flyers which means flying into your head is a real thing. An employee at Western Pest Services actually reported that exact thing happening at a sporting event. Local restaurants are even struggling with these pests disrupting outdoor dining. So, while they seem to be a major issue for the agricultural community, they are also a serious nuisance to everyone that lives wherever they have spread. Here’s a little background for you and what you can do to help and why.

How Did Spotted Lanternflies Get Here?

The first spotted lanternfly was first found in North America in 2014, in Pennsylvania. It is believed to have arrived on shipments of stone from China. A dead spotted lanternfly was found in a shipment of planters and ceramic pots sent to Oregon from Pennsylvania. If that one had made it to Oregon alive, they might also be there now wreaking havoc on their agriculture and forestry.

Where Are Spotted Lanternflies Found?

spotted lanternfly on tree with its wings opened
Fully opened wings!

Since the first spotted lanternfly was discovered in Pennsylvania, they have been detected in 11 eastern states and counting: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Imagine how it could be spreading on the West Coast if that one in the shipment to Oregon had survived and started a new infestation. So, if you see one don’t stop to ask should I kill a spotted lanternfly. They may not be great flyers, but they will hop away pretty quickly! As you can see by the map below, they have expanded their living areas beyond the states we mentioned above and with no natural predators to speak of, they will keep doing so unless humans step in.

What Is the Government Doing About Spotted Lanternflies?
USDA is working with the individual state cooperators to detect, contain, control, and suppress spotted lanternfly populations, and help to safeguard American agriculture and natural resources. This is actually where the average homeowner can help!

Should I Kill a Spotted Lanternfly?

Short answer. Yes. Should I destroy spotted lanternfly eggs? Also yes.

Why Should I Report Spotted Lanternfly Sightings?

a crushed spotted lanternfly
Someone did a good job crushing this one.

You may wonder why you should report a spotted lanternfly every time you see one. After all, there’s a forest behind your house where there may be thousands! Why does my one sighting matter? You may be surprised to hear – it does! Every time you see a spotted lanternfly, you should report it to your state Department of Agriculture as quickly as possible. You may not hear back, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. Reporting sightings helps state authorities track where the pests are concentrating and prioritize places where state money can best be used to fight the bugs. If you report a spotted lanternfly every time you see one, it could help your area (and the agriculture and forestry in your area) get help and treatments first. Just like not reporting can make it seem like you don’t have any so your area doesn’t need treatments. Failing to report can have consequences in your area you won’t like. In addition, report and destroy spotted lanternfly eggs. Some people have been spraying them with alcohol or cleaning products but be careful with that since they could damage the foliage in that area. So scraping them off is better or just have a professional pest control company do it for you.

They don’t normally dance, but this one seems like he is feeling it.

Why are spotted lanternflies bad? No farmers means no food. So, if you want your local farm stand to have a fighting chance against the spotted lanternfly, keep on reporting them. That way you can keep making blueberry muffins with fresh blueberries and having a fresh, delicious tomato sandwich on white bread with mayo and salt in the backyard without being bothered. Is that just us?

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