Fruit lovers and wine drinkers beware!
On Sept. 21, 2021, a population of the invasive spotted lanternfly (SLF) was discovered in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, on the east side of Cuyahoga County. This is a deceptively beautiful "hopper" that likely hitched a ride on railroad cars to arrive here from Pennsylvania where the economic impact could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of jobs, for those in the grapes, apple, hops, and hardwood industries.
From there, the SLF has traveled to a few other states, and now has three locations in Ohio, having arrived via river boat to Cincinnati, and presumed train to our home. No, they cannot drive, but they also do not fly; they hop from one area to the next, and lay their eggs on any flat hard surface where the eggs become traveling larvae and eventually adults, feeding on fruit and sap of many types of trees and plants.
The problem is, the eggs and larvae are very well disguised, and look like small pieces of mud or dirt on our car bumpers, park benches, and most disguised, on tree bark. Information on the SLF can easily be found with a quick Google search, but a good reference is the Ohio State University Extension page at ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-83.
Now through November is the best time to spot the SLF because it is in the adult stage as a colorful winged hopper, although the colors are only obvious when the wings are open. The favored host tree is Tree-of-heaven, an invasive tree native to China, but there are many other host plants and adults can be found individually or in masses numbering in the dozens.
The public is the first line of defense against the SLF, so be observant as you work in your yard or takes hikes through our many local woods. If you think you have seen an adult now, or an egg mass in the winter, please snap a photo and report to the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Plant Pest Control Division by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 614-728-6400. I have heard that one positive ID is worth 100 false alarms because one adult can lay up to 400 eggs!
So please, keep an eye out for the adult Spotted Lantern Fly and egg masses, and help evade disaster for our beautiful vineyards, orchards, and trees that run across northern Ohio. Although the adults are visible now and through the end of November, the egg mass can be seen all winter, to become adults next spring! The sooner an infested area is quarantined, the better.
Retired physician, mother of 5, who has taken up gardening and justice work in my retirement. I am passionate about our environment, and try to stay ever hopeful for the future! I have lived in Bay most of the last 30 years.