For anyone in the areas where Spotted Lanternflies have been found, I wanted to share some info about controlling them. Battling these invasive pests with organic/natural methods or chemical methods are a personal decision that you need to make. You can use one type of control or both, but we need to work together on our properties to try to control these pests.
They first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014, but the warm winter of 2016-2017 created a perfect environment for these insects to experience a population explosion in the southeastern PA area that has been described as “an epidemic.” (http://www.wfmz.com/news/berks/pa-lawmakers-on-spotted-lanternfly-we-have-an-epidemic/640386357)
We have only been seeing them at our farm for since this past August, but they are already starting to cover our maple trees.
You can mechanically kill them by squishing them with a flyswatter or something similar. There are also sticky bands that can be wrapped around tree trunks to traps SLFs as they walk up or down the tree. You can also spray them with a solution to kill them. Rubbing alcohol and insecticidal soap (dish soap mixed with water) have been recommended as non-chemical insecticidal solutions, as well as neem oil (http://www.arbico-organics.com/category/neem-oil-insecticide-fungicide-miticide). These have to be sprayed directly on the SLFs to be effective. There are also chemical sprays that can be sprayed on them. Spraying either organic or chemical pesticides directly on SLFs helps prevent also killing beneficial insects.
I have used an organic pesticide called Pyola (from http://www.gardensalive.com) on my garden when necessary, so I wanted to find out if it would be effective against SLFs.
I used it at the recommended 4% solution, but it didn’t seem to have much effect on them. Yesterday I tried a stronger solution – about 8-10%. When I checked the trees where I sprayed SLFs this morning, there were numerous dead SLFs at the bases of each tree.
Some were also dead, still on the tree.
There is a systemic chemical pesticide from Bonide that has been recommended for the control of SLFs.
To use this product, you treat the root system of the tree once per year. The product is absorbed through the roots and travels throughout the tree. When the SLFs feed on the tree, they ingest the chemical.
Although this product is approved for even fruit trees, the directions instruct the user not to apply the product “pre-bloom or during bloom when bees are foraging.” I contacted the company because I wanted to get a control on these insects, but didn’t want to harm my bees. The company representative who I talked to suggested to apply the product right after the trees are finished blooming in the spring. That way by the time they bloom again next year, there is the least amount of chemical in the tree. She also explained that in the fall the SLFs are not feeding much on trees. Instead, they are preparing to lay their egg masses, so spot spraying them with another product would have more effect on them.
Egg masses look like mud on any hard surface. To remove them, scrape them off with a hard object like a pocket knife.
If you treat your trees with a systemic pesticide like the one I mentioned above in the spring, any SLFs that hatch will ingest the chemical when they feed on your trees.