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What Can You Do About the Spotted Lanternfly?

It has finally happened. The spotted lanternfly has made it to New England. Spotted lanternfly adults and egg masses have been spotted in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Time to take some action.

Although these pests may seem like an agricultural issue for farmers with vineyards or orchards, spotted lanternflies are really more of an everyone problem. The planthoppers are not picky about where they lay their eggs. Just about any surface that is vertical and somewhat flat will do. That means stones and trees, but it can also mean outdoor furniture, playground equipment, and even vehicles. While their preference is the tree of heaven, they aren’t choosey. If you have an apple tree you’ve enjoyed for years on your property, it could be at risk from this invasive species.

a spotted lanternfly spreading its wings

In addition, they are taking over by being an extreme nuisance. They are called planthoppers for a reason. They literally hop from plant to plant. Spotted lanternflies can fly, but they aren’t very good at it. If you see one, you’ll notice they tend to fly for a bit and then start to go on a downward trajectory pretty quickly. Spotted lanternflies will land anywhere that seems convenient to them at the time. We have seen them land on people and often fly right into people’s heads. Outdoor activities like sporting events and even dining outside at local restaurants have been disrupted by these pests. So even though they are more of a destruction problem for the agriculture industry, including vineyards, they can be disruptive to anyone else in the area.

Here’s what you need to know about spotted lanternflies and what you can do to help.

How Did Spotted Lanternflies Get Here?

In 2014, these pests were spotted in Pennsylvania. We are pretty sure they came here on a shipment from China that had stone in it and, unfortunately, a few spotted lanternflies. A dead one was noticed in Oregon when someone received planters and ceramic pots in a shipment. If that one was alive, Oregon may be in the same predicament that we are in New England and down the East Coast.

Where Are Spotted Lanternflies Found?

It hasn’t taken long for the spotted lanternfly to spread out. In just the seven years they have been around, spotted lanternflies have expanded from Pennsylvania to Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, and West Virginia. Just think where they could be if the one in that Oregon shipment had made it? That’s why so many people are asking, “Should I kill a spotted lanternfly? ” And the answer to that question is yes every time. Be swift on your feet, though. They’re not strong flyers but certainly strong – and fast – hoppers!

What Is the Government Doing About Spotted Lanternflies?
The USDA is trying to suppress, control, detect, and contain spotted lanternfly populations in order to help save the natural resources as well as the agricultural community in New England. The federal agency is working directly with the individual states to take care of the spotted lanternfly issue, but you can help let them know where their efforts would be best directed by doing your part.

spotted lanternflies clustered on a tree limb

Why Should I Report Spotted Lanternfly Sightings?

Should you report a spotted lanternfly every time you see one? You may be surrounded by woods and you see a bunch every day. Or you could have just seen the one. Why would reporting either help? Spoiler alert – it does help! If you report sightings of spotted lanternflies to your local Department of Agriculture as quickly as possible, they will know where these insects are congregating. You probably won’t hear back from them, but that’s okay. They are a little busy with all these sightings! But knowing where the most spotted lanternflies are can help concentrate their efforts in the areas where these bugs have the strongest hold. Reporting every sighting can help your area get prioritized – while not reporting them makes the Department of Agriculture think they are not in your area, meaning it won’t get the benefits of treatments. That can put the agriculture (and the farmer’s markets!) in your area at risk. We have heard reports of people spraying spotted lanternflies with cleaning products like window cleaner or with alchohol. While that may kill the spotted lanternflies, it can also kill other beneficial insects like bees and can destroy the plants that get sprayed as well. Scrape off eggs, stomp on adults, and call a professional pest control company to help if they get overwhelming.

Why are spotted lanternflies bad? We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: no farmers = no food. It’s true. If you want orchards and vineyards in our area to not only be able to move on from spotted lanternflies and the damage they can do but to flourish and keep providing fresh fruits to the community in New England, then you’ll want to do your part. Report spotted lanterflies! What would the world be without applesauce, peach pie, and blueberry muffins?

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