The Spotted Lanternfly (Loycorma delicatula) is a planthopper insect native to parts of Asia – the adults being approximately one (1) inch in length and ½ in width. It was first observed in the United States in 2014 and has spread over the Northeast. Its preferred host is also native to China – the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima – but they also prey on red maple trees, grapevines, and over 70 additional tree species and plants. They damage and sometimes kill their host and are considered an invasive insect.
The greatest threat it poses is to crops and ornamental plants. Spotted Lanternflies feed on the sap of their host plants and trees. Their sticky, sweet excrement attracts additional insects, and the resulting black sooty mold is extraordinarily difficult to remove from cars or other items near the host tree.
In its early life cycle, it can be easily controlled by spraying it with a vinegar solution. Later in its life cycle, a more potent insecticide will have to be used. Insecticidal soaps, Neem oil, and pyrethrins present biological and environmentally acceptable means of control.
In China, parasitic wasps and a fungal pathogen keep the population in check. These may be introduced in the US.
Residents can go to www.badbug.nj.gov or Spotted Lanternfly (nj.gov) for treatment options and more information. Another way to control the Spotted Lanternfly is to remove its favorite host, all Trees of Heaven, from the vicinity of your home.
For more information, or if you would like to speak with our Township Forester, John Linson, please call the Parks Department at 973-284-4966. He is available on Tuesdays.
Mauro G. Tucci
John V. Kelly, III