Help! Invasive Species Alert
The USDA and Ohio Department of Agriculture need your help: The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is in Ohio and help is needed to find and identify where they have spread in order to help stop infestation. On Feb. 21, the Bay Village Sea Scouts hosted Terri Nagao at the Bay Village Library. Terri is a Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist with the USDA. She came to speak with the Sea Scouts and interested residents about the dangers of the SLF. One of the Sea Scouts teams is doing their project on this species and its effects on our environment.
First, what is the SLF? It is a planthopper insect that is native to China, India, and Vietnam.
How did it get to the United States? It was first found in a quarry in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It is believed that insect eggs came over on imported stone. By October 2020, it was reported to have been found on the OH-PA border. Now, it has been seen and reported in Cuyahoga County, including our neighboring cities of Rocky River and Avon Lake.
Why is the SLF so bad? They live on plants and trees and feed off their nutrients. The tree or plant is so weakened by its nutrient loss that it is not able to fend off other threats, and its life is threatened. The SLF can be found on ANY plant or tree, though they especially like the Tree of Heaven.
SLFs are voracious eaters and eat in swarms. The insect itself is 1-inch long and 1/2-inch wide at rest. It has a 2-inch wingspan when extended. The hind wings are red and black, and forewings are gray. They have black spots. Immature SLFs are all black with white spots.
The SLF does not have any natural predators or environmental controls. Some birds of prey will eat them, but this is not an effective method of control. Similarly, there is not yet an effective “lure” for them to kill them in mass quantities. This is why citizens must be vigilant and on the lookout for these insects and kill them when found (and report them – more on this below).
During Terri’s presentation, she showed video of an infestation on a tree. Please believe me when I tell you it was horrifying. The entire surface of the tree’s trunk was covered in Spotted Lanternflies. Early detection of these is vital for the protection of our environment and agriculture!
What can you do? Be on the lookout for the insects as well as egg masses. Egg masses, which hold between 30-40 eggs, can be found late September through May – if you find one, please scrape with hard plastic like a credit card and rubbing alcohol, diluted Clorox, or hand sanitizer.
Newly laid egg masses have a grey mud-like covering which can take on a dry, cracked appearance over time. Egg masses can be found on trees and smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles and other structures.
If you find an egg mass or an insect, please take a photo and submit it to agri.ohio.gov/slf, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Bay Village Arborist, Mike Polinski at email@example.com. You can be part of the solution by being on the lookout for these invasive insects and reporting them as soon as you find evidence of them.