Spotted lanternfly

Stop Squishing Spotted Lanternflies

They’re not the monsters they were once made out to be, and stepping on them isn’t effective. So why are people still unleashing their fury on spotted lanternflies, and what should we be doing instead?

Spotted lanternfly

I dreaded the day the first spotted lanternflies would show up in my habitat, but not for the reasons you might think. I dreaded it because I knew what would accompany the arrival of these insects in my region: a flood of frantic posts and messages sounding hyper-alarm bells: “Oh no! Is this a spotted lanternfly?! I squished it! Will they destroy all my plants?”

I’d seen similar hype-induced fears before, about a decade ago when headlines warned of an “invasion” of brown marmorated stink bugs. The stink bugs had no predators, we were told, and they were going to destroy crops and take over our homes each winter in perpetuity. And for a couple of years, they did proliferate, even eating the sunflower seedlings I grew in the basement in the early spring.

Jumping spider and brown marmorated stink bug
We were once told that brown marmorated stink bugs had no predators. It didn’t take long for animals like jumping spiders to prove us wrong. This scene played out at the top of the blinds in my living room.

It wasn’t long, though, before word got out about the tastiness of stink bugs — to the praying mantises in search of an easy meal, to the Carolina wrens who began hanging out near our window screens all day and divebombing for stink bugs, and even to the jumping spiders who came indoors for the winter and took advantage of the bounty. (I’ve always liked the little stinkers and their gentle ways, so I found the jumping spider attack rather hard to witness.)

My first exposure to the spotted lanternfly was in the form of photos on branded collateral at a university agricultural fair six years ago. There were keychains, stickers, hats—every bit of swag imaginable to encourage us to stamp out this strangely beautiful insect who looked like a moth, carried the name “fly,” but was really a large planthopper from Asia. If the promotional materials were to be believed, these menaces were going to destroy crops, kill trees, and generally commit crimes against nature everywhere they went. Their host plant in their native lands, tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), was also invasive here and was going to further exacerbate the problem.

When I arrived home, I promptly researched the species and found that some sources—even back then—acknowledged that the biggest problem for homeowners would be the sticky honeydew emitted onto patio furniture by lanternflies. To me, this didn’t seem like a very good reason to encourage mass violence toward them.

But in the intervening years, between the time lanternflies showed up in Pennsylvania and the time they made their way to my region here in Maryland, we’ve seen unnecessary harm and suffering inflicted on wildlife in the name of catching a few spotted lanternflies, including the use of sticky tape around trees that entangles and kills birds and other animals. And now we’re seeing the unnecessary destruction of native trees. In a local Facebook group dedicated to native plants, one man recently described taking down his river birches simply because spotted lanternflies had gathered on the trunk. Last month, a neighbor of mine pointed to our hickories with dismay and said they were the invasive tree of heaven. How many native trees have been needlessly blamed and removed, all in the name of a cause that’s dubious at best?

Spotted lanternfly nymphs
Late-stage spotted lanternfly nymphs feed on a branch in our habitat. Disproving earlier fears, they aren’t killing trees.

Spotted lanternflies have not lived up to their foreshadowed reputation. In early 2022, Penn State published an article dispelling the myths that had grown up around them, advising readers that lanternflies rarely kill trees. In August, researchers there published results showing that so far, the insects have not caused nearly as much damage to hardwood trees as once feared. “ … [I]n a natural setting where the insects are constantly on the move,” they wrote, “we would not expect significant negative impacts on forest or ornamental trees.”

Other entomologists and ecologists have admitted as much too, yet in a recent New York Times piece, they still defended their mass-squishing campaigns. Cornell University entomologist Daniel Gilrein noted there was scant evidence that stomping would reduce populations in any significant way, wrote Times reporter Claire Fahy, “but he noted that the communal effort ‘helps engage the public’ and leads people to feel ‘somewhat empowered.’ ”

Empowered to do what, I wonder, aside from continuing to divide the world up into “good insects” versus “bad insects” and further inflicting our own rigid thinking onto the natural world? What are we teaching our children when we read books to them about being kind to caterpillars and spiders one day and give them free range to stomp all over lanternflies the next? If only we spent half as much time getting to know, say, the native planthoppers and the native trees in our midst as we do stomping lanternflies and destroying plants, we could make a much greater, more positive difference for nature. As I wrote in my new book Wildscape, I could find little information about the two-striped planthopper I’d been observing in my backyard one summer during the pandemic—because few researchers study these tiny insects. But the Internet overflowed with information about spotted lanternflies, and there was no shortage of people happy to discuss the impending doom they were about to cause.

Pink two-striped planthopper
Why is this two-striped planthopper in my habitat pink? You can find out in my book or by going on your own journey of discovery. If we spent just as much time learning about the floral and faunal communities all around us as we do stomping on and spraying insects and trees, we could do a whole lot more good for the natural world.

I appreciate the work of scientists who monitor the introductions of new organisms and help farms and vineyards, where grapevine monocultures are said to be particularly vulnerable. Yes, we all need to eat, and many of us enjoy a glass of wine and are grateful to those who produce it. But why do we need to extend efforts to protect crops to all the other lands around us? If we truly want to engage the public, wouldn’t it be so much better to ask folks to simply observe the insects rather than inflict violence upon them?

If spotted lanternflies are so attracted to grapevines, for example, I wonder how they behave around the wild grapevines that are plentiful in my own habitat and other wildlife-friendly areas? How do those grapevines respond, and how is their growth affected (or not affected)? What could we learn simply by watching the response of trees like the young staghorn sumac I saw turning brown earlier in the summer when it was covered in lanternfly nymphs during a prolonged drought, only to watch it bounce back taller and greener and stronger than ever now?

Bluewinged wasp on black cohosh
When you attract predators and parasitoid wasps to your habitat, you can rely on these natural controls to keep the balance. This bluewinged wasp (shown here nectaring on black cohosh) lays eggs in larvae of Japanese beetles, another insect that once spurred gardeners (including me) to take outsized measures to destroy them.

We need to take a step back, calm down, and stop giving in to our basest instincts. I once let that fear and reactivity get the best of me too, many years ago when I first started gardening and the trendy scare of the day involved Japanese beetles. We were told to hang traps or drown them, and for a time I did push them into jars of soapy water, even though I hated doing it. Eventually I asked my husband to do it—the ultimate copout. We stopped because one day my niece, who enjoyed helping me rescue “little fellas”—the name we gave to insects who’d fallen into the pool—saw a jar of the dead beetles hidden away behind the potting bench. She carried it over to us, looked up at me, and said with the gut-punching look of a betrayed child: “I thought you liked the little fellas.” I did, and I do, and I never did that again. And since then, nature has created much more balance here anyway, as our mountain mints and bonesets grew and started attracting bluewinged wasps, who lay their eggs on the larvae of Japanese beetles and provide a better natural control than anything we humans could ever devise.

Let’s stop repeating the same cycles of needless destruction. Let’s stomp out violence and reactive behaviors and narrow thinking, not lanternflies.

Endnote: Removing Tree of Heaven
Tree of heaven seedling with spotted lanternfly
A lanternfly crawls up a tree of heaven. It’s easy to get remove these trees if you cut and pull repeatedly.

Another common reaction to the presence of spotted lanternflies is to unleash pesticides on their favorite host plant, tree of heaven. But that doesn’t have to be the default or only response. We’ve eliminated tree of heaven simply by cutting it down and pulling its suckers over the course of several years–a process that took all of about 20 minutes per year. Part of our success has to do with the fact that we have so many other suckering trees, shrubs and native groundcovers–sassafras, Virginia roses, golden ragwort, and sedges–growing in the same spot and keeping invasives at bay. To learn how to tell the difference between tree of heaven and other trees with pinnately compound leaves, watch my video reel on Instagram.

[All photos: Nancy Lawson/]

Responses to Common Misstatements about This Article: Thanks to all who have engaged in informed discussion and have remained civil and thoughtful in their comments. For those comments and commenters who don’t meet that mark, both here and on social media, I’ve created this document that addresses frequent misstatements. Click here to read it.

99 thoughts on “Stop Squishing Spotted Lanternflies”

  1. this is very informative about the lanternfly what do we do instead of stepping on them and killing them what can we do instead for all our invasive creatures in hind sight.

      1. I agree it makes me cringe when I see all the people running around stepping on the blue lantern flies. And humans destroy way more trees than anything all the trees that are cut down for greed is sad.

    1. Preying Mantises are one of the best solutions – unfortunately Nancy only speaks of the Trees that were taken down probably in haste – but she doesn’t mention the 1000s of crops that were destroyed last year resulting in the price hikes on produce –

      I grow raspberries and had to burn more than half my crops last year because the lantern flies had eaten, creating the sap which then creates BLACK MOLD on crops
      needless to say I took a major hit on my survival profits

      the problem is they don’t have natural predators here and the Red on their wings warns most would be pretators that they maybe posionuous –

      Preying Mantises are 1 of the only and major pretators in the US of lanterflies and have actually naturally ridden my garden of them

      1. Thank you for responding here so we can see the bigger picture. Glad the praying mantis is able to control the situation.

  2. Thank you for this informative article reminding us that we need to educate ourselves while keeping an open mind before overreacting to the next scary perceived invasive threat. I remember how surprised I was to witness spiders and birds eating stink bugs. 🥰

  3. You might feel a bit differently if there were hundreds of them outside your doors, covering sidewalks you had to traverse and streets and schoolyards and playgrounds and church doors, etc. It was nasty beyond words, on your vehicles,in the streets, etc. That’s what it was like here in Staten Island last year. Yes, I put out dishes of Pinesol, water and sugar to attract and drown young ones to keep down hordes of big ones. Maybe it wasn’t bad where you live but it was gross here.

    1. I understand your frustration. Pine Sol will sicken or kill a thirsty squirrel, bird, chipmunk, etc. Maybe there is something else…just a thought. I’m not trying to be rude or judgmental.

      1. I was careful and watchful where I placed the pan and didn’t leave it out overnight. I did it twice and stopped when there were fewer. I’m only trying to find some balance between critters and humans. I try to be responsible. I have a native plant garden, I feed feral cats and try to get them TNR’d and save cooked meat scraps that can’t go into the compost for the possums and raccoons in the back yard. It was just overwhelming, even sickening, last year and I didn’t want a repeat.

        1. Sorry – when you say you are trying to find a balance between animals and humans but destroy the animal and NOT the human? Humans are the reason for the imbalance. Getting rid of humans would bring harmony to the earth

          1. Funny how prevalent this sentiment is, yet we see no long lines of people volunteering to leave. Truth is, if you studied ecology, you know the “balance of nature” is a myth. Other facts of nature can cause ecological shifts without any help from humans. Winds and sea currents, migrating birds and other animals can bring invasive species into a habitat just as easily as container cargo ships. Truth is nature is “red in tooth and claw” there will always be battles for survival with winners and losers, with or without humans. That is the whole point of Nancy’s excellent article, if we let nature take its course the new invader is soon discovered by a new predator and a new “balance” is made – completely different from the old ecosystem and itself likely to see change in the future. That is natural. It is only us humans with our unique ability to imagine, who seem to think that somehow there ought to be a static world at peace with itself. And us humans with our over developed sense of our power that think somehow we must either be the problem or we must be the solution, when in fact we are just another player among billions and the perfection we strive for is a figment of our imaginations..

          2. Predictable answer from one of the “ I hate humans “ crowd. ( As they lovingly put down food for invasive bird killing feral cats…)
            It’s only getting worse.

          3. This is an anti-humanist attitude. I recommend you read Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin, and understand where this concept of the negative value of human beings came from, and abandon it.

    2. I wonder if the rest of nature looks upon humans as “gross,” since we are the only animal overpopulating and destroying Earth.

      1. The “rest of nature” is consumed with reproducing its kind. Gross referred to the piles of lantern flies one had to wade through to get out of the house, not the critters themselves.

      2. Tectonic plate shifts cause earthquakes, undersea cracks allow volcanic eruptions, lightning causes most wildfires, heating and cooling air and the earth’s rotation causes tornados and cyclones and you say that humans are causing all of them? 13,000 years ago, a glacier dam broke and created the great plains. Some of the ground is still too wet to plant.

        The last supervolcano eruption took place 26,000 years ago at Lake Taupo in New Zealand with a force estimated to be the equivalent to 100,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs.

        According to scientists, the human population hit a “genetic bottleneck” about 100,000 years ago. Using DNA evidence, scientists have determined that based on the high level of genetic uniformity amongst the current population, there were just 11,000 people left on the earth after that supervolcano and we are all descended from them.

        It has also been determined that prior to 100,000 years ago there were as many as 1 million human-like creatures on the planet, but some event drastically reduced their number and diversity.

        We are nothing.

    3. I saw piles of them on the bridge between NJ and PA last summer and found it fascinating. They’re a good-looking insect. I didn’t find it “gross” at all. The following week, they were gone, and all the plant life in the area seemed to be fine.

  4. I’ve been squishing because I’m worried pesticides will be the next step taken from my city or neighbors and I definitely don’t want that. I have seen spiders, wasps and Catbirds enjoying them and that is a relief as this will take some pressures off our caterpillar populations. I recently learned that you can’t just cut down Tree of Heaven. It should be herbicided then cut 30 days later so as not to have new trees sprout up. This advice is from Rutgers University. But herbicides are bad for us and pollinators. If people simply learned how to identify the seedlings, that would be best. I want to be with you on this 100%. Not sure. Another non native wasp may purposely get introduced that may end up destroying already imperiled caterpillars. It’s tricky. I feel like a hypocrite enjoying all the insects in our garden, but then killing SLF. I have about 95% natives and our garden was hit the most by them, in my neighborhood. That, I truly don’t understand. Unless it’s because we don’t use pesticides. Great article, thank you! Food for thought.

    1. The hack and squirt method of killing tree of heaven with herbicides should have little to no impact on the surrounding environment.

    2. Hi Karen! Regarding the tree of heaven, that advice has been around for a long time, but it’s not the only way to remove it. Every context is different, but continuous removal of the suckers can weaken the plant to oblivion, and natives can help keep them out. It’s interesting that you had the most lanternflies in your neighborhood. In addition to having natives, do you also have more plants in general than your neighbors? I’m just thinking that could be another reason why; there’s inherently more for them to eat, potentially. Anyway, thanks for reading and considering my ideas. 🙂

  5. Wow. I thought I was the only one who thought like you! I have tons of spotted lanternflies but can’t tell anyone, or everything would be sprayed with poison resulting in mass deaths of other animals. Predators will find a way to eat them. I just wipe them off when they land on me. My cousin posted herself screaming to see one. She would probably die to see hundreds at once! When the stinkbugs came out, an “expert” talk I went to said they would create human starvation. Now, lots of animals eat them.

    1. I had no problem with the stinkbugs. They were harmless, easy to remove from my house. I don’t think I ever killed any, just escorted them to the nearest window or door. Rarely see them anymore.

  6. I have yet to see a spotted lanternfly here in Silver Spring. If they were around I would probably find one in my yard, because I have one of those badly named “trees of heaven” that just will not go away. Every time I mow I let the darn tree-of-hell thing know it is not welcome by ripping it up, but it keeps growing back.

    1. Let it grow until mid-May and pull it out. For a large tree, girdle it or cut it off about three feet above ground in mid-May to early June. As shoots sprout break them off; easy to do. Allowing the tree to grow in the spring depletes much of the stored energy from the roots and when it is cut it will put up less shoots. Letting a trunk allows it to sprout again and an easy way to manage.

    2. Hi Catherine! Mowing might just encourage it because you’re not getting the whole above-ground part of the plant and it can keep photosynthesizing and suckering. If you pull the suckers out by hand continuously, you can weaken the plant.

  7. I loved your video and article. Not taking time to think things over and learn ends up caused some mass craziness at times. I like your ways of thinking, rethinking, studying, and learning. Now, I am rethinking. Thanks for that! : ) Susie

  8. thank you from the heart for speaking out against killing these creatures. i love Wildscape and wish everyone would read that book! thank you so much

  9. Love this post, and thank you so much for it! I’ve never killed a spotted lanternfly, though I will admit to pulling down the egg patches over the winter that the lanternflies that swarmed a few of my maples left behind. Interestingly, while last year there were swarms of spotted lanternflies on three of the silver maples in my yard, I have hardly seen any this year. I don’t know if that is because of the drought (I’m in northern Virginia, and it has been a dry summer here and, where I am, is currently in drought status) or something else.

    This is the first piece I’ve seen that doesn’t encourage simply killing spotted lanternflies, and I much appreciate reading it.

    1. Scraping the egg cases is probably the only effective method of population control. They’re actually training dogs to sniff them out now which is pretty cool imo.

    2. Thanks, Emily! It has sounded like the populations do rise and then fall in some areas they’ve been inhabiting for a while, but I guess we’ll need a much longer stretch of time before we can see overall trends in numbers.

  10. While I can’t prove that lantern flies in any of their stages were solely responsible, in the wake of their arrival in considerable numbers this year the leaves on our oak came out, the edges turned brown, and the leaves curled up and dropped off. There were tiny spots all over them all. The tree leafed out again somewhat more durably, but everything beneath its canopy became covered by honeydew. Many plants, native, like the oak, have developed mold- some have yellowed and died. Additionally some branches of our staghorn sumacs have developed discolored leaves and others have died , all this in close proximity to where lantern flies were discovered infesting saplings of several species of trees. There has been more than adequate rainfall this year, but one of our street trees leafed out and all the leaves turned brown. Unfortunately the city cut it down at the insistance of a neighbor before it could be looked at by a knowledgable arborist. ( I know it sounds like I’m describing a plague ridden land but it feels a bit like that.) It seems reasonable to suppose that all this has something to do with what in our area has been a very significant infestation of lanternflies, even in places where there is more concrete than greenery. People have been stomping and
    since we don’t use chemicals , and we don’t use sticky traps for fear birds might be harmed, we stomped. It was not a pleasure, but to suggest that doing so doesn’t reduce the population of lanternflies that will go on to lay masses of eggs is a nonsense, rather like claiming masking doesn’t reduce contagion by airborne pathogens.

    1. Hum, this past spring I lost a 7 year old Sweet Bay Magnolia to some kind of disease. It reminded me mostly of the fire blight I had on a pear tree years ago. I intend to put a replacement tree in a different location. Anyway the magnolia had a LOT of lantern flies over the past 2, maybe 3, seasons. Now I’m wondering if there was any connection.

    2. Trees let off pheromone distress signals. So, who knows. It doesn’t mean browning leaves equate dead or dying. It might be a stress reaction. Get rid of the food and the threat moves on. Tree goes dormant and comes back later just fine, as one article from Penn State included in her article stated. Sad that they removed the tree. It could also just be a coincidence and something else is happening instead to them instead like a blight or fungus.

  11. Thanks for this writing. I too have a problem with our attack mode and try to be patient before I take on the “invaders”. If it is not the coddling moth, it is the spotted-wing drosophila, and now the brown marmorated stink bug. I am a firm believer that if we, as farmers, include natural areas, we can help balance the imbalance that we create. Diverse plantings, no chemicals, and the acceptance of some loss. Agriculture runs roughshod over the landscape and has affected so much. Our global ideals have really done us no favours either, importing so many pests. I step back, sometimes squish a few BMSBs, painstakingly net the trees, boil the spoiled plums, and hold hope in the work of the birds, the soldier beetles, lacewings, and the rest of the predators that will do what they do. For some reason science puts little faith in Nature and that most things will settle out if we have patience. Patience is the most important crop that we can nurture. Instead, we fight and attack and ask questions…maybe…later. Thanks for your beliefs.

  12. The idea of killing the little fellas bothers me too. They found my beans and made mince meat of the foliage. I did soapy water several mornings but I’ll find another method going forward… least I’ll try. We shoot from the hip so often. I enjoy your measured and educated views.
    Keep up the good work. I plan on ordering your book soon !

  13. Thank you for bravely debunking the mass hysteria about these insects. Seems like some folks just enjoy “being in the know” and spouting about every little last invader. Some non-natives are actually helpful in the environment, and it’s worth considering that possibility when we see alien species.
    That said, there are some invasive species that are a menace, even after years of environmental adaptation to their presence. Phragmites, Kudzu, snakeheads, and Japanese Knotweed come to mind. They are enormously disruptive, but here to stay.
    I think the biggest “take home” from this post is that we need to find some way to adapt rather than living in fear.
    Again, thanks for your courage in speaking out.

    1. Thanks, Maureen — I really appreciate this. Yes, it’s never all black and white or all one or the other. Somehow nuances too often get buried and lost in our culture, though. Thanks for your thoughtful read on it.

  14. Just yesterday I was pondering this subject and came to the same conclusion as you, Nancy. Thank you for articulating the response so well. In August I visited my cousin in Amnville, PA (East of Hershey). They still had remnants of the sticky tape on their trees that were handed out for free (and hyped) by the Extension service in 2022. She said that this year they saw a marked decline in SLF. I believe they’ll reduce here in MD also as Nature balances out naturally. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Doris! What a travesty that sticky tape is. We might see even more in Maryland before we see fewer, but it would definitely make sense for it to even out at least a bit more over time, given past experiences with other species.

  15. Thank you, thank you for this beautifully written, beautiful perspective! Thank you for writing the feelings I have, but am not able to express so eloquently. This kind of compassion and respect, widespread, could change the world.

  16. Thank you for your wise thoughts regarding the spotted lantern fly. My experience is southeastern PA has been similar. Question though, occasionally an imported insect does wreck real havoc (woolly adelgid for example). (I remember elms being wiped out during my childhood.) How are we to know which insects are a concern?

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. Yes, and the emerald ash borer is another, more recent example. I think the issue is not that there aren’t potential ecological problems caused when any species is plunked down somewhere well outside of its home range and away from its natural floral and faunal communities. It’s just how we address these problems.

  17. So glad to hear your take on this. Mass hysteria is a bad look and too often leads to unnecessarily destructive impulses. They are beautiful insects. I’m lucky enough to have lived on my 6.5 acres for 30 years and to have watched about half of it revert to woodland. One of the results is lots of birds and lots of tree bats.

  18. I was just talking to a friend who works in an elementary school and was dismayed by how the children just want to stomp on every bug they see, probably because they’ve been told “insects are bad.” And yet, the insect population, like so many animal populations, is decreasing dangerously. THANK YOU so much for your thoughtful, rational advocacy for respecting other living creatures and being an informed resident of the planet.

    1. How horrible! Yes, this is exactly the type of thing I’m talking about. A friend emailed yesterday and said when she was helping to lead a local nature walk, a similar thing was happening; people pointing at random insects and asking if it was the lanternfly and if they should stomp on it. Thank you for reading!

  19. What a relief to read your humane response to the spotted lanternfly! I really disliked stomping on them; not in my nature. I greatly appreciate your balanced and well thought out approach.

  20. 1. Wait a minute? Is it true, or is it NOT true, that the spotted lanternflies physically suck-out and extract the sap from at least some of our plants and trees, thereby killing those plants and trees with a slow and miserable death?
    2. Given the manifold invasive species originating in Asia that we have endured in the USA in recent years, such as snake head fish, Japanese Knotweed, and spotted lanternflies, not to mention off-course “weather balloons”, SARS, and that recent and memorable Wuhan casserole, why should any of us believe that ANY article written and published in purported defense of an obviously destructive invasive species from Asia is anything but simple CCP-paid-for propaganda? Yours is either CCP-planted – or else is instead the most irresponsible “home-care” article ever propagated, and the most hypocritical. Want to be a “Humane Gardener”? Great. Why don’t you start by being humane to the trees, and saving them?… You do you. I’m doing the hand-held bug-zapper. And, by the way, you should not just cure the omissions in your article, but you should also delete the false information from it. The glue traps TOTALLY work. No, they DON’T catch birds or animals. Rather, they catch and kill spotted lanternflies – in large numbers, and extremely effectively.

    1. Hello John,

      In response to your questions/statements:

      1) The science is showing that the original conjectures regarding tree death are not true. Based on your comments, I’m guessing you have not read the latest research that I helpfully linked to in my article. If you want to rely solely on outdated information, I can’t stop you. All I can do is invite you to read and consider it.

      2) I haven’t “cured” any omissions in my article because there weren’t any omissions. On social media posts, which I assume is what you’re referring to, I simply reiterated points that I’d already made but that people had not bothered to read before commenting. And since I had to look up “CCP,” it should be obvious that I’m not a propagandist. But I think you already knew that. Lastly, there are many documented cases of the sticky tape killing and maiming birds and other animals. All you have to do is look at the National Audubon Society website to see photos and learn more about that.

    2. Also I want to note for the record that plant species native to the U.S. are invasive in other places around the world, including in European and Asian countries. It goes both ways, and no amount of xenophobic conspiracy theories will change that.

    3. John, as one that is involved in wildlife rehabilitation…you are grossly wrong about the sticky traps. They do injure and kill wildlife. A quick Google search can give you plenty of images to prove it to you if you don’t want to take the word of rehabbers.

  21. I had wondered of the same points re: massive take over and destruction by the SLF’s, having lived through the voracious escapades of the (formerly known as “gypsy”) spongy moths on Long Island in the 1980s. We could hear their masses munching on the leaves, witnessed their frass sprinkling on us in outdoors. Where are they now? However I do raise an eyebrow to Penn State’s assertion that the SLFs can spread out elsewhere, and therefore diminish their impact . What if there is no place to spread? What if you live on an island, and they hit a dead end? (Think: Staten Island’s woes last year). Living on the east end of Long Island, we have much to worry about. In 50 yrs, we went from potatoes to vineyards, and the east end economy depends on them, as it does the apple orchards teeming with visitors now. What happens when the population hits us out here? As of now, the SlFs have made it as far as Ronkonkama/Selden areas on Long Island (midway). Another 50 miles there will be no where to spread. What then? It’s truly concerning.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful questions. It will be interesting to see if island populations and outcomes are different. One thing to note: There is some new research coming out soon from the University of Maryland, showing that populations peak after two years and then collapse after predators begin learning that the lanternflies are food.

      1. Nancy, we had a large number of SLF last year, yes I stomped and scoured my garden in early spring for the nymphs. BUT, I have seen so many more preying Mantises and our yard is home to many bird species. SLF population here is MUCH less than last year. I agree the native birds and insects have caught on to a new food source. Loved your article!!! Well said!

          1. Thank you!! I have always been a take the bug outside kind of person, when initially hearing about the SLF’s I cringed in thinking how I would have to kill them. I saw a few trees COVERED with nymphs (whole bark) and believed stomping was warranted. I would NEVER use the tape. I believe now, that it should be to let nature take its course, as this year there are fewer.

  22. Thanks Nancy. I’m a Master Gardener but I am not on board with the hysteria over “invasive”–more like opportunists. Who knows how we may need to rely on some of these plants as climate change forces “natives” out. Autumn Olive is one of my favorite “invasive.” I now have thousands of jumping worms in my soil at my house. I am wondering what will happen with these and who will eventually show up to eat them. My chickens can’t/won’t. They are too aggressive and wiggle out of their crops! Some “invasive” are destructive but so are our attempts to control them.

    1. Thanks, Ellen. There is an interesting Facebook group about jumping worms where people share predator stories (among many other things), and someone recently shared a photo of a box turtle eating them! Your chickens must have fancier tastes. 🙂

      Yes, sometimes the cure is certainly worse than the “disease.” I do like to remove autumn olive because it takes over habitat, but because it grows prolifically all around the neighborhood, I can never seem to get it all on the edges between us and the neighbors. I will keep working on it, but in the meantime, at least it provides structural shelter for birds and others — something that is so lacking in landscapes. One thing I’ve noticed when I remove the autumn olive is that often just underneath, there are things like Allegheny blackberry sprouting — which would otherwise be eaten by deer when they are young! So the invasives do serve as temporary nurse plants for the natives too in certain contexts, which is interesting and can be helpful.

  23. Thank you so much for your article, I have been saying the same thing this whole season as SLF has entered our suburban habitat. I think one of the current problems is the lack of direct observation outdoors. If we actually observe what is going on in our ecosystems, we may find the real stories told by Nature, not the ones told through screens.
    We have an acre property bordering state park land, with a small orchard, vegetable garden and many trees, shrubs and perennials. We let some areas be colonized by “weeds” like goldenrod and boneset and have loads of mountain mint and many other pollinator and bird favorites.

    So what I have observed is lots of nymphs on my huge cucumber trellis and some on my grapevines, that’s it! They are around but nothing like the millions of cicadas years ago. I have observed northern flickers gathering near tree of heaven in the woods, and I am happy if the catbirds are distracted from eating my strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

    Human are not the scourge of Nature, we are Nature. Our problem is modern with centralized food systems and not living sustainably. But it hs not always been this way. The indigenous people of this country lived more in harmony with Nature, something we can do too. They would plant separate gardens and hedgerows for the wildlife in a silent agreement with them. We lack patience and our timescale had shrunk to the mere second rather than the decade or generation.

    1. Thank you, Nicole. I love your observations and your comments. We’ve experienced the same thing here — there are so many plants for everyone to eat and such a diversity of predators and prey that it would be hard for any single animal to dominate for long.

      Those catbirds sure do make their way around, don’t they? Pokeweed is also a good distraction!! <3

  24. The Spotted Lanternfly infestation of the eastern part of this country is NOT a result of nature. Nature has spent hundreds of millions of years to create balance in LOCAL regions of the world. The Spotted Lanternfly was introduced by PEOPLE to an ecosystem that did not create either the Spotted Lanterfly or any effective balance between it and any natural, local predators or diseases. To rail against mitigation efforts by farmers to keep their crops safe from this invasive species is misguided. Killing Spotted Lanternflies is not a moral issue. It is a practical one. Killing them so does not, in any way, teach a “bad” lesson to our children. It doesn’t teach them anything about respecting nature, since nature had nothing whatsoever to do with their sudden appearance on this continent, and the enormous, virtually unchecked damage they are doing to certain fruit crops. I would suggest the lesson of NOT killing them is wrong one, as it falsely equates nature with careless human introductions of invasive species into pre-existing and previously balanced ecosystems. And I will continue to stomp on them, as well as cockroaches or flies in my home – or mosquitos anywhere – without the slightest pang of conscience. There is indeed a “division” between “good insects and bad insects” depending on the context, just as there are good fish and bad fish, good rabbits and bad rabbits, good plants and bad plants, etc.

    1. Where in the article did you see anything that rails against mitigation efforts by farmers? There is no sentiment against farmers protecting their crops here. I asked people to reconsider applying agricultural practices to their home habitats. Agricultural lands and managed differently from native plant/wildlife gardens, as the goals are different. Crops are generally monocultures, and habitat gardens are more diverse. If you want to follow ag-based advice in your wildlife habitat – to take just one of many examples – then you would pull out milkweed and pokeweed and violets and Virginia creeper and many other valuable natives that farmers have long been told to remove so that they don’t interfere with crop growth.

      Advocating for different management of these two very different types of lands—ag lands and native plant gardens—does not equate to railing against farmers.

  25. So funny. I am just finishing reading Silent Spring. An old but inspirational account of the use of insecticides on insects and their effect on the environment. She discusses many of the points you bring up, which I agree with. However, I am very happy that the recommendation of squashing the SLF is made instead of using insecticide. I have not seen any recommendations for the chemical warfare of past generations. I think that this is a good thing. I do not believe in killing anything but I encourage people to eat the blue catfish that is wreaking havoc in the Chesapeak Bay and I hope that the scientists come up with a biologic for the SLF. I doubt squashing them is going to decrease the population but I am happy that this is the recommendation and not chemicals that will affect the native species.

    1. I totally agree with you about the squishing being ridiculous yet I also doubt it’s really harmful to anything either, unlike using pesticides which would most likely be ecologically harmful. Probably would be better to try and prevent these things from happening in the first place. Proactive vs. reactive. Easier said than done though…

  26. I belive that these lantern flies need to go, but sticky tape is harmful, I hate that I have to stomp them, but they have to go away, and this, this, is not OUTDATED

  27. These lantern flies are in fact bad for the ecosystem, as the they eat the tree of heaven which over time is becomeing part of our ecosystem

  28. I think having this form of sentiment is tone deaf from acknowledging regions that have been greatly impacted by their presence. Yes, at the deepest level, the spotted lanternfly has every right to exist just like every other creature or insect, and who are we to decide their fate? However, having this perspective is fitting when populations of these things are at a manageable level. We’ve seen explosive swarms in urban areas more so than the supposed threat that experts claimed would do on our agriculture. I frequent areas like Jersey City, where every single sidewalk, storefront, tree, or car, can easily foster INFESTATIONS of these things–almost to biblical proportions. You can hardly avoid them at this point. How is that normal?? And with no natural predator in place (which will take a decade to introduce), is why we need to instill measures of population control, be it the “stomping method” to keep swarms at bay. What I find confusing is that there is almost nothing in cities for the lanternflies to feed or sustain, and yet often the swarms are on concrete or the sides of buildings the most. I have barely seen any out in nature on my walks in trails. What is the correlation?

    Trust me, I usually keep an open-mind when it comes to all things deemed “invasive” and usually believe something isn’t unless there is tangible evidence of other populations or environments being greatly impacted. But when it comes to the spotted lanternfly, I’m convinced we all need to step in and manage these things so they aren’t a true nuisance. They certainly don’t belong in cities where I’ve seen them crawl through the revolving doors of high-rises in NYC and you’re met with a trail of dead ones before you even reach the reception desk.

    1. It is certainly an interesting thing to ponder the differences between city populations and more suburban/rural ones. Cities are filled with natural predators such as crows, starlings and other animals who thrive in urban areas, so it seems like it would not be a big stretch for them to soon discover the lanternflies as predators in other areas have done. At the moment, stomping really isn’t thought to be effective at reducing populations no matter where the insects are. And when brown marmorated stink bugs first arrived, we did have the high numbers in suburban areas that you are describing, and many people were saying that no predators would ever eat them. That proved not to be true, and those populations eventually leveled out as well.

  29. Thank you for this accurate assessment of the SLF situation. I live twenty miles from the location where this insect was first introduced to Pennsylvania. In answer to your question about native grapes- they are thriving here, with no noticeable decline due to spotted lanternfly. Since the SLF population crashed here several years ago, we occasionally see a few individual insects, but there has been no population rebound. The only plants that have been harmed are the ailanthus trees.

    1. Thanks, Warren. That’s what I’ve been hearing from others as well. A biologist on a Philly radio station this weekend said it’s even hard to find them anymore in Berks County.

  30. This article is utter nonsense. There’s plenty of info freely available on the Internet that explains the serious problems these insects are causing.

    1. And there is plenty of more recent info — and scientific data — explaining that many of those predicted problems have not come to pass. So if you are going to make such a broad statement on this page, you need to back it up with facts to support it. Calling something nonsense doesn’t make it so.

  31. This is an interesting article. I believe that stomping is ineffective and we should teach one another to remove egg masses from trees on our own properties. Each mass holds 20-50 eggs. Imagine the time and energy to chase and stomp 20-50 adult SLF… It takes about 5 seconds to scrape off an eggmass that is within reach from the ground.

  32. Personally I believe these are wonderful bugs! They are beautiful and the paranoia on them is ridiculous. They are not locusts and so far I have not heard they are carriers of serious plant diseases. I would also argue why not keep the tree of heaven around to let some breed in our backyards! We keep milkweeds around for the monarchs, they attract tons of aphids and then the ladybugs come by the hundreds. For every pest there are more than enough predators to keep them in check so I am all for letting them thrive and enjoying their beauty…

  33. Some things that can be done to help. Plant herbs, flowers that attract bees and wasps. Place wooden stakes of various heights for birds to perch. Create bird & bat nest boxes. Provide wood and stone areas near water to attract frogs and toads. Buy ladybugs and let loose on trees. Some areas of weedy, flower plantings and shrubs attract preying mantis. Put later bugs in gallon container with sugar yeast and milk. Mask up after several days as this smells awful and spray near masses of later bugs. I did this with roaches outside where they gathered in our ferns. Many succumbed.

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