The adults and larvae of the Spotted Lanternfly damage host plants by feeding on sap from stems, leaves, and the trunks of trees. Trees and plants have been described as giving off a fermented odor when this insect is present. Death of ornamental trees because of spotted lanternfly feeding has not yet been reported. But, this invasive species is new to our environment. 

According to the PA Department of Agriculture, there is no knowledge the SLF kills trees and plants. However, after feeding on these trees, extensive damage takes place. When the Spotted Lanternfly feeds on a host tree, it digests sap and releases honeydew that promotes mold and fungi growth. Another issue with the release of honeydew is that this sticky sour mixture of honeydew and sap attracts other insects that also feed.

Why are they in my New Jersey neighborhood?

Several years ago, (September 22, 2014) they were discovered in southern Berks County, Pennsylvania. They probably arrived as an egg mass, stuck to a pallet or similar packing material, and were received by an unsuspecting recipient who did not notice them.  We suspect they were introduced several years before they were first detected in September 2014. Since then, they have been breeding and spreading.

How do you protect trees from spotted lanternfly?

Place a sticky tree band about four feet from the ground and wrap it tightly against the bark of the tree. Look for and eliminate any gaps at the bottom of the sticky band to prevent spotted lantern flies from climbing up your tree underneath the band. Secure the tightly wrapped sticky band with staples or pushpins.

You can also have your local tree care expert like Brennan’s Tree Service tree, your trees for these and other invasive tree killing insects.

Will the Spotted Lanternfly live through New Jersey Cold Winters?

Spotted Lanternflies live through the winter only as eggs. These eggs form masses, the adults lay on trees, under bark, on rusty metal, on yard objects, on cars, on outdoor grills, and on many other surfaces.

Does NJ have any natural predators of the spotted Lanternfly?

The short answer is not much. Catbirds are considered predators of spotted lanternflies. These birds live in meadows, thickets, and trees. They eat insects as well as berries and different types of small fruit. Though most insect eating birds won’t touch them. This seems to indicate that they are unpalatable to birds. Some general predators have been seen eating spotted lanternflies. Such as praying mantis and spiders. Unfortunately for the trees, the numbers of lanternflies are overwhelming for those predators to have a significant impact.

What do spotted lanternflies eat?

Spotted lanternflies eat sap from plants. They prefer Ailanthus trees, walnuts and grape vines as a first choice, most any other hardwood tree (Oak, Maple, Ash) as a second choice and with much less frequency, pine trees. They have a very wide range of host plants.

Are Lanternflies eating my trees?

They could be. This is a difficult question to answer. Spotted lanternflies are known to “host” (feed) on many different hardwood trees that we have in our New Jersey landscape. That said, they tend to have preferred choices that they feed on, such as Ailanthus, walnuts or grape vines. This means that they will choose certain species first if possible, but settle for what is available.

Are Spotted Lanternflies killing my trees? 

We believe that they probably are. This is literally the trillion-dollar question for our forest, orchards and farmers. Not to mention vineyards in New Jersey.

Here are some signs that continued feeding after several years can kill a tree, especially younger, or stressed trees. The best way to think about this question is the fact that they are drinking sap, which is the lifeblood of the tree. A healthy tree in a wet year can give up lots of sap before it is a concern (think maple syrup), however persistent heavy feeding (especially on a “hot tree” loaded with thousands of adults) may greatly weaken a tree, making it susceptible to other insects or diseases. Which will kill it.

What trees do spotted lanternflies not like?

While there is a lot of research going on, it is likely there are tree species that are currently hosting Spotted Lanternfly that have not been discovered.

List of known Trees that are attacked by the Spotted Lanternfly:

  • Black Walnut
  • Cherries
  • Pine
  • Willow
  • Peaches
  • Black Gum
  • Apple
  • Oak
  • Grape
  • Hickory
  • Service Berry
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Maple
  • American Beech
  • Dogwood
  • Sassafras
  • Sycamore
  • Plums
  • White Ash

A “Host Tree” is a tree that is a target of pests – in this case, the Spotted Lanternfly. Host Trees nourish and support insects during all, or some, of the insect’s life stages. Susceptible trees will host all life stages of Lanternflies – from the egg to adult.

Do your part in stopping this widespread invasive insect. Call Brennan’s Tree Service if you see them on your trees this fall.

Kill everyone you see. The tree you save may be your own.