I’m sure we all woefully remember the abundance of spotted lanternflies that hopped around Lancaster County last summer. I couldn’t go anywhere without several buzzing past me; just thinking about the leaping insects sends a shiver down my spine. During the winter months, we may not have to deal with the invasive species flinging through the air, but their eggs remain alive, waiting to hatch in the spring.
If we want to prevent increasing numbers of lanternflies, we need to take preventive action. “Every egg mass can have 50 eggs in them that will hatch in the spring,” says Lisa Sanchez, who is a naturalist for Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation. “The more we scrape and kill now, the less there will be in the future.”
Spotted lanternflies made their first appearance in Berks County in 2014. Lancaster County was added to the quarantine zone for the invasive insect in 2017. “Lancaster County is a hot spot for the insects and residents should do what they can to prevent them from spreading to other counties or states,” Lisa emphasizes.
Spotted lanternflies feed on sap from over 70 different plant species, specifically plants of economic importance to our state (grapevines, maple trees, birch and more). Lanternflies cause damage that can significantly stress the plant, leading to decreased health and possibly death. If uncontained, spotted lanternflies could potentially drain Pennsylvania’s economy of at least $324 million annually, affecting thousands of jobs.
Lisa encourages Lancaster County residents to look around their properties and local parks/preserves for egg masses. They can be found just about anywhere, but they are most often found on the trees that lanternflies feed on like ailanthus (an invasive/nuisance planting known as Tree of Heaven that is like a magnet for them), maple, grapevines and fruit trees. They also can lay their eggs on buildings, walkways or other unnatural surfaces. The masses are grey in color, about one to two inches long and look similar to gum or putty on the tree. To kill the egg masses, Lisa says they need to be scraped off the surface into a bag of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. If they are just scraped onto the ground, there is a chance the eggs could still hatch in the spring.
On January 24 from 1-2:30 p.m., Lisa will be hosting a hike through Speedwell Forge County Park where attendees will explore the grounds and destroy any egg masses they find. If you would like to attend, register online by Friday, January 22.
For more information on upcoming Lancaster County Parks events, click here.