Where's the latest invasion of lanternflies at the Jersey Shore? The beaches.
Complaints of lanternfly swarms have been piling up at the beach, and the best advice for holding down the population is simple: Kill them.
“In Monmouth County, we still have a good population,” said Diane Larson, home horticulturist with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County. But reports of spotted lanternflies are lessening. Larson attributed that to the vast amounts of education to the public. It all started with the see them, stomp them movement.
“We had so much information out about getting rid of them, killing them that they didn't make it to the adult stage. So I think that really helped,” Larson said.
The lanternflies' beach activity is likely from the wet weather and colder, westerly winds, Larson said.
“I really think that was a wind thing,” Larson said about the eastern sightings. “And, you know, I also think that's kind of nature's way of dealing with them because they have nowhere else to go and they just die.”
As we reach October, these invasive creatures, which have about a one-year life cycle, have become adults and will begin to lay egg masses, up to 50 eggs at a time, on tree bark. The first frost of the season will kill off the adult flies.
To reduce the population next year, the eggs need to be removed. Larson suggests crushing the masses and then scraping them into a plastic bag. Finally, hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol can fill the bag enough to saturate what was scrapped off. Dispose of the bag closed.
That's what she does in her own neighborhood.
“The good thing about spotted lanternflies is there's one generation a year, so it's in the spring the eggs hatch," she said. So in the winter, scrape and crush the eggs to reduce next year's population.
Where did lanternflies originate?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the spotted lanternfly, named the lycorma delicatula, is native to China but first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014.
The invasive species made its way to New Jersey in 2018.
How many pairs of wings does a spotted lanternfly have?
The life stages of spotted lanternflies start in egg masses, spotted on tree bark, followed by black nymphs, red nymphs and ultimately the adult adult lanternfly has two different red, black and white wings, according to the NJ Department of Agriculture.
For group sightings, Larson urges people to call the master gardeners' hotline, 732-303-7614.
Should you spray for lanternflies?
With the public attempting to get ahead of the lanternfly, Larson fears spraying insecticides are killing off “good bugs,” and might be the reason we are seeing less butterflies and lightning bugs. Spraying insecticide does not actually kill the lanternfly as they need to be directly sprayed to be affected.
“People are going nuts with the spotted lanternfly. They may be spraying inappropriate things. So we have information on what to spray when. Timing is important," she said.
Bottle lanternflies instead
Use a bottle with a lid to collect lanternflies off of trees, Larson said, and go in the morning when they're more sluggish.
"You just go around and pop them in there and then you put the lid on. It's great,” she said.
Seeing lanternflies on your trees in your backyard isn’t the end of your healthy trees, Larson said, and no reason to panic.
“At the end of the day, if your tree is healthy, they're not going to kill it. But if your tree is overhanging your patio, what they do is they suck the sap out of the tree, which means they exude sticky sap,” she said.
Spotted lanternfly trap
To learn more about what’s outside your backdoor and beyond, the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Monmouth County is hosting a free event for kids at the 4000 Kozloski Road site from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday where you can learn how to make your own trap for flies. For questions, call, 732-303-7614.
For more information, check out https://monmouth.njaes.rutgers.edu/
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Lanternflies invade Jersey Shore beaches from wet weather