If You Ever Spot This Insect, Get Rid of It Immediately!

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I’ve never been a big fan of bugs. In fact, I think a lot of us can agree that while some insects are beautiful and fascinating, others can creep you out. And then there are those that are downright harmful—not just to us, but to our plants, crops, and sometimes even animals. Most of the time, when I see a bug, I just let it go. I’m not in the business of harming any living creature without a good reason. However, when it comes to the lanternfly, or Lycorma delicatula, the scenario changes drastically.

The lanternfly is an insect you might want to get rid of immediately if you spot it. And believe me, I’ve had my own run-ins with these pests in my backyard. There they were, clustered on my favorite maple tree, looking almost beautiful with their distinctive and colorful wings. But don’t let their appearance fool you—these insects are destructive.

source: Pexels

What is a Lanternfly?

The lanternfly, despite its charming name, is a significant pest. It originated in China and was first spotted in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, it has been spreading across various states, leaving a trail of agricultural and ecological damage. The thing about the lanternfly is that it’s not just a problem for commercial farmers; it affects backyard gardeners like myself just as severely.

The Damage They Cause

Lanternflies feed on the sap of a wide range of plants and trees. This feeding process not only weakens the plant but can also lead to the growth of sooty mold due to the sticky, sweet substance called honeydew that they excrete. This mold further harms the plant by inhibiting photosynthesis, effectively choking the life out of it. In my case, I noticed the once vibrant leaves of my maple turning dull and blackened as the mold spread.

source: Flickr

Appearance of the Lanternfly

Identifying a lanternfly is key to controlling its spread. Adults are about an inch long and half an inch wide. They have a striking appearance with wings that are gray with black spots at the front and a blend of red and black sections hidden beneath. When they fly, the bright red underwings create a vivid flash of color that is quite eye-catching. Juveniles, known as nymphs, are black with white spots and turn red before reaching maturity.

Feeding Process

The lanternfly uses a long, needle-like mouthpart to pierce the plant and access the sap. This feeding style is particularly harmful because it allows the insect to tap directly into the plant’s nutrient channels, sapping its life energy away efficiently. Observing them at work on my plants was both fascinating and horrifying.

First Sightings

As I mentioned earlier, lanternflies were first detected in the U.S. in Pennsylvania. They likely arrived on a shipment of stones or other goods from Asia. Since their first detection, they have been moving across the states, primarily along the East Coast, but their range is expanding as they find suitable climates and host plants.

source: Flickr

What to Do If You See a Lanternfly?

If you see a lanternfly, the recommended course of action is to eliminate it. This might sound harsh, especially to those of us who prefer to coexist peacefully with nature. However, considering the significant damage these insects can do, controlling their population is essential. You can squash the adults or nymphs directly.

Destroying Lanternfly Eggs

One of the most effective ways to manage lanternfly populations is by destroying their eggs before they hatch. The egg masses look like smears of gray mud and are often found on smooth surfaces like the bark of trees, stones, or even outdoor furniture. If you find an egg mass, you can scrape it off into a bag containing alcohol or hand sanitizer, which kills the eggs.

source: Flickr

Dealing with lanternflies has been an eye-opening experience for me. It’s taught me that sometimes, taking harsher measures against certain insects is necessary to protect the broader ecosystem. If you spot a lanternfly, remember the damage they can cause and take action. It’s a small step that can help save many trees and plants in your area—and possibly prevent the spread to new regions. It’s a responsibility for those of us aware of the problem to manage it effectively and help keep our environments healthy and thriving.