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Experts say spotted lanternflies are out in force as they transition from juveniles to adults

Spotted lanternfly
Posted at 7:34 AM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 07:34:33-04

The spotted lanternfly is showing up on sidewalks, buildings and trees and Michael Raupp, aka "The Bug Guy" says there's a reason for that.

"People are going to be seeing a lot more lanternflies over the next couple of weeks because they're turning from their juvenile stage, which we call nymphs, from adults. And those adults are on the move."

Raupp is a professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Maryland. He said over the years, the spotted lanternfly population has spread to 14 states including Maryland and is prevalent in 18 counties in the state.

The insect is an invasive species from Asia, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Officials have encouraged people to report sightings of adults or egg masses and to destroy them.

Raupp said at this point, the lanternfly population is so far-reaching that people killing them in their yard won't do much to diminish their numbers.

"The probability that they can be eradicated either here in Maryland or frankly in the United States is infinitesimally small. They are simply going to join the natural ecology of our landscapes here in Maryland," he said.

The greatest agriculture threat that lanternflies pose is to vineyards, said Raupp. He called them more of a nuisance to trees in residential areas.

"There is no record of spotted lanternflies killing trees in your residential landscape if they’re well established, so that’s one fear, one concern that people should not have."

"When [lanternflies] feed on the sap of a tree, the excess food that they eat is going to be excreted in a sticky sweet liquid called honeydew," said Raupp. "That will rain down on the tree and plants below, creating a fungus called sooty mold."

Raupp said there are insecticides and sprays that can kill lanternflies. And Mother Nature is doing its part to bring down the population.

"We now know that [there are] several natural enemies. These are naturally occurring beneficial insects, things like assassin bugs, praying mantis and spiders. They’re attacking and killing spotted lanternflies in our landscapes."

He said there are also fungal diseases that can infect and kill lanternflies.

"Mother Nature is giving us a little push back so this is good news. So hopefully between what we do and what Mother Nature does, this problem with spotted lanternfly will settle itself down a little bit."