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Why Are Spotted Lanternfly Bad?

Best known for negatively affecting trees, Spotted Lanternfly damage can also be a problem for people and surrounding property.

Spotted lanternfly damage
Spotted Lanternfly Damage: Swarm of SLF adults feeds on a tree (left), Black, sooty mold at the base of a tree trunk (middle), Stinging wasp attracted to honeydew dripped onto a leaf by SLF (right).

Damage in Nymph Stage: May-July

SLF Nymphs are mobile and tend to go after plants instead of trees.  That’s because their mouthparts can’t pierce tree bark.  As a result, they spread all over the yard searching for plant stems and leaves that they can easily feed on.  Nymphs get progressively more harmful as they evolve through 4 Instar stages.

1st and 2nd Stage Instar Nymphs can damage perennials, like salvia, when they are present in high numbers and don’t move on.  However, most plants recover quickly.

3rd and 4th Stage Instar Nymphs begin feeding on leaf petioles and heavier twigs.  By the 4th stage, Instars are 3 times bigger and high populations can start causing permanent damage.  These larger Nymphs feed more heavily which can cause yellowing leaves, twig dieback and loss of critical plant nutrients.

Damage in Adult Stage: July-November

In the Adult Stage, tree damage can range from oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling, defoliation and even tree death.   But, the threat to trees isn’t the only problem.  Dripping excrement, stinging wasps and sour odor are often ugly consequences of Spotted Lanternfly. Winged adults can attack a single tree in swarms.  With so many feeding at once, the droppings (aka “Honeydew”) can look like rain pouring down from the tree.   

Honeydew coats everything under the tree, including cars, hardscapes, and decking. Once there, black, sooty mold begins to grow.  The combination of Honeydew and black, sooty mold creates an unpleasantly sour stench.   It is also very difficult to remove from surfaces. Even worse, the odor attracts stinging wasps.  They can’t resist the tantalizing smell of the honeydew.  Wasps will swarm your property for a taste.  It’s particularly a problem for children playing in the area.

Learn More! Download our Spotted Lanternfly Fact Sheet.

Take Action

The first step is to have your Giroud ISA Certified Arborist inspect your property for Spotted Lanternfly and determine the best steps for control.

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