Never Use Sticky Tape for Lanternflies! It Kills Birds!

embedded photo from Audubon News: Downy Woodpecker found in Brooklyn. Photo: Sarah Valeri

22 August 2023

Invasive spotted lanternflies are swarming over Pittsburgh right now, especially near the railroad tracks. Everyone wants to kill them but the first solution that comes up on any Google search is a very, very bad one. NEVER EVER use sticky tape to capture insects. Glue tape kills birds!

Audubon News, the source of the embedded photo above, wrote about the hazards of glue tape last March: Meant to Catch Spotted Lanternflies, Glue Traps Are a Horrifying Hazard for Birds. Only 10% of the trapped birds survive, even if they’re taken to a rehabber.

Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Lancaster County, PA has years of experience with the harm caused by glue tape. This Facebook report from 17 August 2023 is just one of them. Three of the four trapped woodpeckers died and the fourth is in trouble.

So what can you do to kill lanternflies?

For trees use the Circle Trap. You can make it yourself. Instructions found here.

For home, make a simple vinegar trap :

Spotted lanternfly and insect vinegar trap (photo by John English)

Straight white vinegar plus dish liquid — maybe a 1/2 tsp — to break the surface tension. (Insect by-catch in this photo: a cicada.) Thanks to John English for this suggestion.

For personal combat there are lots of solutions: Electric “Tennis Racket” bug zappers, the Bug a Salt Gun, etc. found via Amazon searches.

Electric “tennis racket” bug zappers via Amazon search
The Bug a Salt gun via Amazon search

Watch a champion spotted lanternfly killer use these tools in a video from VICENews:

video from VICENews on YouTube

p.s. Why are spotted lanternflies more prevalent near railroad tracks? They arrived as egg masses stuck to railcars and hatched from there. Their host tree is the Ailanthus, an invasive weed that grows along the rail lines. They were first found in southwestern PA at a rail yard in Beaver County in 2020.

(photo and video credits are in the captions)

5 thoughts on “Never Use Sticky Tape for Lanternflies! It Kills Birds!

  1. Glue traps are an indescrimanent killer wherever they are placed. Beneficial insects, birds, reptiles, small mammals; unless the glue is weak enough only to catch flies—even then it’s still a risk for hummingbirds—never use them.

  2. so sad to see birds dying like this.

    I just researched bug zappers. the electrocutioner, as shown in the video above, came out on top. high kill rate because of the grid vs the mesh. plus it is easier to clean.

  3. It really depends on the degree of lanternfly infestation, the surrounding ecosystem and the width of the tape. Here on Herr’s Island in the middle of the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh, the infestation is particularly bad, the swarms of lanternflies are thick, the glue tape is thin, there are far more infested trees and lanternflies than other insects or birds. The tape traps just about 100 percent lanternflies with zero percent anything else.

  4. Downtown Pittsburgh is even worse. A man outside a skyscraper was sweeping up enough dead lanternflies from the sidewalk to fill a 15 gallon trashcan. Lanternflies are just stinkbugs dressed up in fancy colors. Pray they’ll be done and gone before the bird migration ramps up.

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