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How to combat spotted lanternfly nymphs

Spotted Lanternfly: How to Get Rid of Nymphs

The Spotted Lanternfly is a destructive insect that has invaded the Philadelphia area.  All winter long, their eggs lay waiting for the warm weather, carefully encased in a protective, hardened layer of secretion. Now that they’ve emerge as nymphs, it’s time to take action! Read on to find out how to identify and combat Spotted Lanternfly in the Nymph stages.

How to identify spotted lanternfly nymphsHow to Identify Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs

Spotted Lanternfly goes through several identities during its life cycle. Adult females lay eggs in the fall, and they cover the egg masses in a secretion. This secretion dries hard and camouflages to look like dirt or clay. The young nymphs that emerge from the eggs in spring are black with white spots. In early summer, they gain red markings on their bodies. Later in midsummer, they become adults and shed their skin to form wings on their backs.

How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs

The experts at Giroud Tree and Lawn have been working closely with Penn State University’s Department of Entomology and Cooperative Extension to determine the best treatments and techniques for combating Spotted Lanternfly in each of the life cycle stages. Chemical spray treatments are only recommended if there are high populations of nymphs on a specific plant or tree.

Are Treatments Available to Control Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs?

Research shows that the best time to control Spotted Lanterfly is at the adult stage. However, there is an exception.  Nymph control may be warranted if the population is high enough to cause feeding damage (wilting stems).  Or, if Nymphs are focusing heavily on individual plants.  In these cases, your Giroud Arborist can evaluate the situation and determine if targeted treatment is required.

Here’s why control of Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs is usually not warranted.  Nymphs love to move around and don’t stay on a single plant for long. To reach all the plants that might attract nymphs, your entire yard would have to be treated with a long, residual contact spray insecticide.  Even with these treatments, nymphs can still invade from other locations!

Also, although insecticide will kill Nymphs, it can also kill beneficial insects and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. The insect experts at Giroud prefer to use these types of sprays for targeted control, not broad scale treatments.

What’s the Solution for Controlling Spotted Lanterfly Nymphs?

Ultimately, the best way to combat Spotted Lanternfly during the Nymph Stage is with manual methods. Sticky bands, Circle Traps, and good old fashioned squishing are key to getting ahead of these awful insects before they reach adulthood!

According to Penn State:

Currently, the most effective trap for SLF is a sticky band wrapped around the trunks of trees. SLF nymphs and adults are trapped in the sticky barrier as they crawl up from the ground onto the trunks and move upward to feed on the tree.

Sticky bands can be found at most hardware stores and also on Amazon.com. They are easy to install, but they should be changed weekly for the best results. However, it is important to be aware that these sticky bands can accidentally trap other insects and also small animals and birds. To avoid this problem, Penn State recommends cutting the sticky bands lengthwise so the surface area is not as broad. Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs are small and climb up the tree. They will get trapped at the bottom of the sticky band, so there is no need to have such a tall band. Penn State also urges homeowners to wrap the outside of the tree with chicken wire over the area of the sticky band. This will prevent squirrels, birds, and other small animals from becoming stuck to the band.

How to build a circle trap
Penn State offers directions on how to build your own Spotted Lanternfly Circle Trap on their website.

Alternative Solution to Trap SLF

If you’re concerned about trapping small animals and other wildlife in sticky bands, Penn State offers an alternative solution:

“Recent research has shown that an entirely different kind of type of trap is also very effective and can dramatically reduce the chances of capturing other creatures. This new style trap is made of plastic-coated insect screening and does not use any sticky material at all. It is basically a tunnel that SLFs walk into. When they move upward in the trap, they end up in a dead-end collection container where they die.” -extension.psu.edu

To view the complete directions on how to build your own Spotted Lanternfly Circle Trap, Click Here!

Nymphs Are a Warning Sign to Take Action

Equally important, recognize that the Nymphs are an early warning sign to get prepared for the swarms.  By July or August, the Nymphs will turn into Adults.  That’s when the real trouble begins.  It’s also the time when control is most effective.  Adults don’t move around as much and tend to attack specific trees.  As a result, we can target the high risk trees and protect them from Spotted Lanternfly.

Researchers are anticipating a major infestation of Spotted Lanternfly this season.  Once the adults begin to swarm, we expect demand for treatment to surge and exceed our capacity.

If you are seeing Nymphs now or have high risk trees such as Maples or Willows, take action.  Call 215-682-7704 to schedule your FREE Property Inspection with a Giroud ISA Certified Arborist.  For more information, please visit Giroud’s Spotted Lanternfly Info Page.

Author: Jeanne Hafner

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  • Paulette K

    Hi. Essential Neem oil worked for me. I just happenened to have a tiny bottle of it that I bought a few years back and decided to try it on one particular fig tree where there are ALWAYS lanternflies…or as I like to call them “demonic mini monsters”. These mini monsters are always on the branches of this fig tree. I have other fig trees, but they don’t seem to bother them as much. This particular tree is in the sunniest spot. I have no idea if that makes a difference or not. In any case, i put a little of the neem oil on my hands and physically rubbed it directly onto the branches. I was so shocked not to see any lanternflies on that tree for about a week or so. And that was even after quite a few days of rain! New ones did eventually come back, however. I also tried other essential oils, such as Lavender (only because I ran out of Neem) and they seemed to work too, but I don’t think they worked as well as Neem. Last year I tried Food Grade DE, but it had absolutely no effect. I don’t use pesticides or poisons of any kind, so I always try to find natural alternatives to problems, whenever necessary.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Paulette! Isn’t that funny how just the one tree seemed to attract Spotted Lanternfly? There’s still so much we need to learn about this insect. We’re glad to hear the Neem oil worked for you! Thanks for sharing your story with us. Have a great day!

  • Terry Graybill

    My husband goes out with a shallow painter’s pan of soapy water and flicks the nymphs into it. He can knock 3-5 at a time and has taken out many both last year and this with this technique.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      That’s great, Terry! Thanks for the tip. Good luck in the fight!

  • Robert Caffrey

    Do you think diamtaceous earth would kill the nymphs

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Robert, we have not heard that this is an effective method for killing the nymphs. We are periodically checking in with Penn State to see if they have any updated recommendations. If they do, we will be sure to report it here! Thanks for your questions, and good luck in the fight!

  • Michelle

    Hi, I live in Ewing NJ and wondering if this is outside your area to come inspect? Like others, I’ve seen the nymphs on vines in my yard. I’m not sure what to do about them. In the area where I did spot them, it’s pretty overgrown with vines. We have one trap that we can put on a tree, but how do you determine where to put it when we have so many trees? Thank you.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Michelle!

      We are sorry to hear you’re having a problem with SLF this year. Unfortunately, we do not service NJ. We recommend checking out treesaregood.org for an ISA Certified Arborist to help you out. Good luck!

  • William Teter

    They are on our roses by hords

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Oh no! So sorry to hear that, William! If you’re in our service area and would like an inspection, give us a call 215-682-7704. We’re happy to help!

  • Cheryl Smith

    Will a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth kill them?

    • Jeanne Hafner

      We have not heard that is an effective treatment, Cheryl. The nymphs move from plant to plant so quickly!

  • Leslie

    In a desperate move to stop the hordes of nymphs climbing three trees in my yard, I tried a DIY method by wrapping the trees with plain old duct tape, sticky side out. It worked great and can be changed frequently because I have a large roll of it. Just an idea for anyone with a limited budget or the need to do something fast.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Great idea, Leslie! Just be sure to cut the tape lengthwise if it’s wide to prevent accidentally catching small mammals and birds. If you’re in our area, give us a call and we can give you a free evaluation to get those buggers when they turn into adults 😉

  • Terri

    I am finding them on back siding of townhouse & our back deck. I have purchased couple milkweed plants for the deck, I heard it is toxic to them. What can I do to help control them on our deck/siding?

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Terri- If they are crawling up your siding, you could put sticky bands on your siding to catch them as they walk up. However, you will want to cover the sticky band in a mesh or cage. This will prevent small mammals, such as bats, birds, and squirrels, from becoming trapped on the sticky tape. If you’re in our service area, we can send one of our arborists out to evaluate your property and create a proposal for treatment when the nymphs turn into adults. Give us a call at 215-682-7704 to schedule that free appointment. Thanks for your question!

  • susan lamparter

    I found nymphs on our church property in Cheltenham, but they seem to be confined to wild grape vines. I’ve been using tape wrapped around my hand to catch them.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Susan, that sounds like a fun technique. How are your grapes holding up? Give us a call if you’d like us to evaluate the property for treating the Spotted Lanternfly when they turn into adults- 215-682-7704.

  • Denise

    Hi, Anyway someone can come out and ‘check’ my property to evaluate for spotted lantern fly/nymphs?

    • Denise

      sorry, I thought this was a way to send a private message.

  • Joe

    Right now, the nymphs are up high on vines, all over the stems. I simply mix up a batch of dishwasher soap and water in my sprayer and spray all the leave and vines. Next day all dead and plants are clean.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi Joe! We’ve also heard of the dishwasher soap mixture, along with some other DIY formulas. We hear mixed results. It’s not a method recommended by the researchers at Penn State or the PA Department of Agriculture, however, if it works for you, that’s great! We would just advise everyone to be careful that whatever is going into your DIY mixture does not have an adverse effect on your plants or beneficial insects like pollinators. Please give us a call at 215-682-7704 if you would like one of our ISA Certified Giroud Arborists to evaluate your property to create a plan of attack for when the nymphs turn into adults. Good luck!

  • Gary Young

    I have used “Home Defender spray” around the trunk of the tree, below the tape and have hundreds of dead and dying flys on the ground around the tree in addition to those stuck to the tape. Comments?

    • Cindy Giroud

      Hi Gary, I think you may be referring to “Home Defense.” We are not familiar with the product since it is formulated for home use. However it does appear to contain Bifenthrin, an ingredient recommended for Spotted Lanternfly control. While the product killed the pest on contact, you’ll need to monitor how long it lasts on the tree. Your use of tree bands is an excellent strategy for capturing Spotted Lanternfly in the nymph stages (May-July). Just be sure to change the bands every two weeks and cut them in half longwise to prevent accidentally trapping small animals. Giroud’s Spotted Lanternfly control program is based on the latest research by Penn State and the PA Department of Agriculture. Research has shown that pesticide treatments are most effective in the adult stage from July through November. You might also want to start checking your property for egg masses. Scraping them off now will help stop future generations. For more information on how to control this pest, check out: https://giroudtree.com/spotted-lanternfly/spotted-lanternfly-control/ Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.