This Is Your Reminder About Spotted Lanternflies Here In New Jersey
Here we are Jersey, in the middle of July. The sun is shining and we’re barbecuing. We’re biking and we’re hiking. We’re tanning and we’re swimming. All this to say we’re spending a lot of time outside right now.
And as the summer continues to progress and we get into August, we will still be spending lots of time outside, but it will be time to be vigilant. This is because August and September are the prime season for spotted lanternflies.
In case you are new to the area, or you are lucky enough to have never come across one before, spotted lanternflies are an invasive species of insect native to China, India, and Vietnam. According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, in its native countries, they have several direct natural predators. But here in the US, they do not.
Currently, the only natural enemies we have of the lanternflies are generalist enemies, like praying mantises and certain species of spiders. These generalist enemies are not likely to decrease the spotted lanternfly population on their own.
IF YOU SEE A LANTERNFLY, PLEASE KILL IT. I cannot stress this enough. Spotted lanternflies are detrimental to our crops and our trees. These bugs will feed on the sap of over 70 different plant species. This feeding that they do damages plants significantly and can stress them out so much that the plant’s health will decrease, and they may die.
Currently, spotted lanternflies are in their nymph stage, meaning they don’t have wings yet and can’t fly. They are still quick and will try to jump away from you if you try to kill them, but it’s still relatively easy to do.
Once August rolls around though, the nymphs will have grown into adults and have gotten their wings. In my personal experience with them, they don’t tend to fly really far. They use their wings to extend their jumps. It is harder to kill full-grown adult lanternflies than it is the nymphs, but please try.
There are several different ways you can kill them. First, there’s the standard squish method. Stomp on them, smash them with your shoe, whatever you have to do. A favorite among several of my extended family members is to shoot them with a salt gun.
If you’d rather try something a little less aggressive (I get it, they’re gross to look at, especially when they’re smushed on the ground), NBC New York suggests spraying the bugs with straight vinegar, which will kill them on contact. Or you can combine 1/4 cup of liquid soap, like Dawn dish soap, with a quart of water and a tablespoon of vegetables in a spray bottle and spray them with that.
The soapy water will suffocate the lanternflies. You could also try planting milkweed. Milkweed is very attractive to lanternflies, but the sap is poisonous to them.
These bugs multiply like crazy, so please, kill them when you see them. If everybody is vigilant, we may be able to slow their spread and decrease the damage they are doing to our New Jersey crops.