We have all witnessed a strange, new insect flying around the greater Pittsburgh area. They have grayish-brown wings with black spots – and everyone’s talking about them.
The Spotted Lanternfly, sometimes referred to as the SLF, is an invasive insect native to China that was first identified in the US in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. The Spotted Lanternfly has made its presence known in Western Pennsylvania this summer with recent news reports showing hundreds of them on the buildings all over downtown Pittsburgh. In fact, they can now be found in almost all areas of Pennsylvania.
What’s wrong with the Spotted Lanternfly?
According to the PA Department of Agriculture, the spotted lanternfly causes serious damage including oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling and dieback in a wide range of plants including grapes, and other trees such as black walnut, river birch, willow, sumac, and red maple. Thus, it is a huge threat to the Pennsylvania agricultural industry. In addition to plant damage, when spotted lanternflies feed, they excrete a sugary substance, called honeydew, that encourages the growth of black sooty mold. This mold is harmless to people however it causes damage to plants.
What should I do if I see a Spotted Lanternfly?
The public is strongly encouraged to kill as many Lanternflies as possible. You can stomp them with your foot, spray them with vinegar, or build a trap. The Penn State Extension provides detailed instructions on how to build a trap to destroy them more efficiently. https://extension.psu.edu/how-to-build-a-new-type-of-spotted-lanternfly-trap-called-a-circle-trap
You are also encouraged to report your Lanternfly sightings online at https://services.agriculture.pa.gov/SLFReport/ or by calling 1-888-4BADFLY.
How can I make a difference?
By helping to destroy the Spotted Lanternfly in any of its growth stages, or by destroying its egg masses, you can help to curb the spread to other areas not yet infested. Refer to the chart above to identify the Spotted Lanternfly throughout its growth cycle. You should also check your vehicle and vehicle loads for hitchhiking Lanternflies to prevent them from traveling with you to unaffected destinations. And be sure to report the presence of Spotted Lanternflies in your area.