What Kills Spotted Lanterflies?

Damaged adult spotted lanternfly, Pittsburgh, 22 July 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

8 August 2023

Aaarrg! They’re everywhere! Pittsburgh is in the midst of a spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) invasion and it’s just plain creepy. These bugs don’t bite but they’re large, they leap and fly unpredictably, and there are just so many of them. Even when damaged like the one above, they’re disgusting. Make them go away!

So what kills them? I’ve seen a few birds attempting to catch the nymphs but those few birds can hardly make a dent in such an overwhelming insect population.

For now it’s up to humans kill them. Not with poison but by more ingenious means.

How about robots? Carnegie-Mellon’s Robotics Institute developed a robot that scrubs spotted lanternfly (SLF) egg masses off trees in winter so they can’t hatch the following spring. This is fascinating and useful in the long run for orchards but it doesn’t help us today. (1:29 minute video)

video from Global Update on YouTube

Another long term solution is to introduce SLF’s natural predators. Researchers in Delaware are studying two species of parasitic wasps from China that target spotted lanternflies but it will take years to make sure these tiny wasps are totally dedicated to SLF and will not attack North American species. If these wasps pass the test they’ll provide a long term solution for vineyards. (3:00 minute video)

video from CBS Philadelphia on YouTube

And then there’s just plain killing them. The second half of this 2022 video shows how a woman in Gillette, NJ kills them in bulk. Favorite tool? An electric “tennis” racket! (Entire video here is 8 mins long. Excerpt is 4:00 minutes)

video from VICENews on YouTube

If you live in southwestern PA and haven’t seen a lot of lanternflies yet, just wait. Butler, Lawrence, Fayette and Somerset Counties were added to the SLF quarantine this year. Forewarned is forearmed … with an electric “tennis” racket!

Spotted lanternfly quarantine counties in Pennsylvania as of 25 Feb 2023 (map from PA Dept of Agriculture via Penn State Extension)

Check out local answers you can use right now in this 1-hour-long Lunch and Learn about Spotted Lanternflies presented by Phipps Conservatory.

(photo by Kate St. John, map from PA Dept of Ag via Penn State Extension, video credits in the captions)

5 thoughts on “What Kills Spotted Lanterflies?

  1. I was waiting for an Uber near North Park last week, and I was surrounded by them. It was like the scene from “The Birds” except with the lanternflies. I tried to kill them, but they moved too fast. I know I must have looked like a crazy person.

    1. Shannon, your moniker “splatt116” must mean you splatted 116 of them 😉

  2. Don’t forget that SLF can only jump forward. When you go to stomp or smack one, do it from the front and they will literally jump under your foot, hand, swatter.

  3. I live in Lancaster County and two years ago we were inundated with them. This summer, I’ve seen three. No one’s quite sure what caused the decline, but take heart that their numbers may quickly dwindle

  4. If you enjoy killing them, a fly swatter works great. Even killing a couple thousand will not make much difference.

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