Spotted Lanternfly Invasion … Can We Control It?

Spotted Lanternfly Invasion … Can We Control It?

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)

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We have only been seeing them at our farm for since this past August, but they are already starting to cover our maple trees.

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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.

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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.

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Some were also dead, still on the tree.

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There is a systemic chemical pesticide from Bonide that has been recommended for the control of SLFs. 20171020_100744.jpg

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.

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Egg masses look like mud on any hard surface.  To remove them, scrape them off with a hard object like a pocket knife.

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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.

Kyle’s First Time Outside

We usually let the mamas and lambs out of the barn on nice days.  If we are still waiting for mamas to lamb we keep them near the barn instead of sending them out to a pasture.  With Kyle not having any wool we waited till the temperatures were a little more mild, though because we didn’t want to keep Annie and him in the barn while the other mamas and lambs went outside.  March 6th was a warm day and Kyle was 10 days old.  He and the other lambs got to test their speed around my garden while the mamas got a taste of fresh grass.

 

Afterwards, the lambs were tuckered out and Kyle enjoyed some time warming up in his barrel.

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The lambs were able to play outside again on March 8th.

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You can see where the hair starts on Kyle’s legs, and the hair on his face in this photo.

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Trying to win the race

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All 4 feet off the ground!

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More Pictures??

They spent a lot of the time outside racing around the garden!

Kyle

We woke up on Saturday, February 25th, and checked the barncam – there was a newborn lamb in the maternity stall!  Annie labored quietly and had the single lamb already cleaned off and it was standing up.  (Annie’s mother, Star, had delivered her lambs right under the baby monitor without us hearing a peep from her.)

We headed out to the barn and I was first struck by how wrinkled his skin appeared.  Then it hit me … he had no wool.  I had heard about this – in 2016 a woman on the Facebook group Goat Vet Corner posted about one of her goat kids that was born with no hair.  The vets on the page suggested he may have a condition called hypotrichosis, which is defined on wikipedia.com as “a condition of abnormal hair patterns – predominantly loss or reduction.”  Merriam-webster.com defines hypotrichosis as a “congenital deficiency of hair“.

Annie’s ram lamb was a big boy, weighing 11 pounds.  He had normal hair on his legs and tail, but very little hair on his head and no wool or kemp fibers on his torso.  We eventually named him Kyle so we wouldn’t have to call him “the lamb with no wool” or “the bald lamb”.

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As I moved the pair to a jug (a small pen for the mama and lamb/s to stay for a couple days) I noticed that the Kyle’s skin was almost sticky.  I am guessing it was residual amniotic fluid or still damp from 5 months in utero, since his skin felt normal after a couple days.

Once he was mostly dried off, we put a lamb sweater on him to help him stay warm.  We were concerned about him the first day and weren’t sure if he’d make it.  He had a bit of difficultly finding Annie’s teats to nurse and he slept flat out on his side and seemed to have trouble getting up.  We ended up dressing him in a smaller sweater so he wouldn’t step on it, and went to check on him repeatedly to help him nurse.

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By day 2 Kyle was eating and acting like a normal lamb, although he shivered a bit – remember it was February.  We hung a heat lamp on one side of the jug for him, which he slept under.

On day 3, we band our lambs’ tails and apply ear tags.  Now, Annie was almost 10 years old at this point and had had lambs 8 other years.  She’s always been a great mama and cared for her lambs, but as I handled Kyle she became very alert and every time I had my hands off of him she would pull him to her with her nose and nudge him behind her.  I found this surprising because many times when a ewe finds something “off” about her lamb, she will reject it.

After getting banded and tagged, the lambs and their mamas go back into our large maternity stall to join the other ewes.  Annie kept a watchful eye on her lamb as he ran around with the 2 other lambs that were born a couple days before him.

 

Because of the temperatures in PA in February and early March, and because Kyle had no hair to protect his ears from frostbite we bought a metal drum and made a lamb warmer for him.

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The drum has a hole in the top for the heat lamp and the cord to fit through so it is stable and an opening on the side for the lambs to enter.  As you can see, Kyle wasn’t the only lamb to enjoy the warmer!

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Stay tuned for more posts on Kyle!  I will explain more about his condition and describe how he’s been growing the past few months.  Questions?  Please post them below and I will answer them as best I can.  I may also address them in future posts.

Textbook Lambing

As I stood feeding our Jersey calf his bottle last Thursday (2/23), I noticed that Bertha was pacing in a small area and sniffing the ground a lot.  I figured she was in labor – a few days earlier than I had calculated – so after Cookie was finished his bottle I decided to watch Bertha and make my first Facebook live video.  I realize not everyone is on Facebook so I wanted to share the video here, too (our farm page is public and anyone can see it).  I tried to keep it from being too graphic for folks who don’t want to see too much of the birth.

Enjoy!

Lessons from Across the Fence…

… or {more accurately} through the fence.

We brought Camille and her 2-week old ram lamb home in May 2009.  After weaning, we sold Camille’s lamb “Cameron” to Christine E. in NJ to be the herdsire for her flock.  He produced beautiful offspring, but in 2012 Christine decided not to breed her sheep.  It turns out Cameron had other ideas…

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Here’s Christine’s story:

We had Cameron and 13 ewes.  We decided not to breed, so in May 2012 we separated Cameron from the ewes in a connecting pasture separated by 4×4 mesh sheep fence.  On January 16, 2013, I noticed that one of the two-year old ewes was bagging up.  We were not set-up for lambing (had disassembled lambing pens), so we put her in my horse trailer.  Within 48 hours, she delivered 2 lambs.
After that, I got down on my knees to study all of the ewes as they walked around in the pasture.  The ewes were of course very woolly, so it was difficult to tell for sure as they all looked fat and the only way to really get an idea if they were pregnant was to see if they were bagging up.  As they are on 5 acres, it was impossible to catch each one to get a hands-on check of them.
I noticed another ewe bagged up, brought her to the horse trailer, and she had a lamb.
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I thought that was it.  2 days later, I went out to the pasture to feed, and I noticed all of the sheep were laying outside of the shelter even though it was windy.  It made me suspicious, so instead of just throwing hay over the fence, I went inside and walked to the shelter.  There was a ewe and a lamb.  All of the sheep stayed outside (I’m guessing) to make sure they didn’t step on the lamb.  My horse trailer was not safe for any more ewes, so we put her in my old chicken coop.
I then noticed that my 11-year-old ewe was bagging up and even though she was fat around her stomach, I could feel her spine and ribs.  I brought her up to the coop so I could grain her.  About two weeks later, she had twins.
Another ewe was bagging up.  I had to put her in the horse trailer because we were running out of room in the coop.  We set up an outside pen so the sheep could go in and out of the trailer.  That ewe had a lamb but it was weak and I was afraid to leave it in with so many sheep (afraid it would get trampled), so we made it a bottle baby.
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It was snowing one morning, and I went out to the sheep pasture, and found a lamb laying in the snow with mama nowhere to be found.  My second bottle baby.
In total, we had 8 lambs born to 6 ewes.  One of the first set of twins died because the mother rejected him.  I kept him in with the mother, holding her and forcing her to let him nurse and supplementing him with a bottle.  One morning, I found him dead.  It looked like his neck was broken.  Either his mother or the other ewe must have stepped on him or shoved him against the wall when he tried to nurse.  He was almost 2 weeks old, so it was very sad.
The first lambs were born on January 18 and the last on February 11.
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Besides losing the one lamb, my only regret is that I didn’t get to see Cameron breeding the ewes through the fence!
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I’ve heard of rams breeding ewes through a fence… but this is the first time I heard of one breeding 6 ewes through a fence!  Now I know why some breeders have “Abstinence Alleys” (space between fences so sheep cannot have direct contact)!  I am so thankful to Christine for letting me share her story.  I hope she doesn’t mind how long it’s taken me to post it!

Just when We Thought We were Finished…

… we had more lambs!

Remember that 1980s film For Keeps?  I felt like I was in the scene where Molly Ringwald announces, “I’m pregnant.  Can you pass the turnips?” when I went out to feed the sheep last Tuesday morning.

Coco was laying in the middle of the field next to a lamb.  I wondered why she was mothering a lamb when she didn’t have any.  As I got closer I realized it was her lamb!  I went right over to Fiona and felt for an udder … it was full!  I immediately brought Coco and her lamb into a lambing jug and put Fiona in the jug next to her.

Coco’s little ram lamb weighed 7 lbs and has turned out to be just as loud as his mama.

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The next morning I thought I saw a lamb on the baby monitor so we checked the barn before leaving for school.  Fiona had 2 lambs next to her and I checked Coco’s stall to make sure her lamb didn’t squeeze through into her jug!  Nope … she had twins!  After bringing Noah to school I went back to the barn and checked on the lambs.  The ram lamb (darker color) weighed 7.25 lbs and the ewe lamb weighed 5.25 lbs.  She’s the smallest (live) lamb we’ve had born here!

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When we crotched the ewes in early February we didn’t think our lambs were pregnant, but we were wrong!  Wondering how we missed it? With 2 months to go in their 1st pregnancies, they weren’t very big yet.  Also, first-timers’ udders don’t get swell too much prior to lambing.

Our shearer came out the day after Fiona had her lambs (Thursday) so everyone was able to be shorn.  {If you shear before lambing, most shearers recommend shearing 3-4 weeks before the due date so there is no chance for injury to the unborn lamb(s).}  The day after shearing, we moved all the ewes and lambs to our big stall to get used to being in a large group again.  The weather turned colder over the weekend, so we kept the flock in the barn until Sunday so the smallest lambs didn’t get too cold.

Here’s a short video I took of the ewes and lambs on Sunday.  They were so happy to be outside!

Our lambing season is now finished.  Really.  We don’t have any ewes that don’t already have lambs.  Now to watch the lambs grow!