Breaking News
More () »

Franklin County officials urge residents to be on the lookout for spotted lanternflies as spring begins

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species first detected in southeastern Pennsylvania in 2014 and first appeared in Franklin County in 2020.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from March 27.

Franklin County officials on Tuesday issued a reminder to residents to be on the lookout for spotted lanternflies as spring begins.

The invasive insect was first detected in southeastern Pennsylvania in 2014, and spread to Franklin County in 2020. Last year, the county was added to the state's list of quarantine zones, meaning it now has "a sustainable, reproducing population of spotted lanternflies," according to Franklin County Commissioners and the county's Planning Department. 

"Some areas of the county experienced heavy infestation in 2021 and it is likely the county will experience an even higher infestation (this year)," the county said in a press release.

Spotted lanternflies do not bite or sting and pose no threat to human health, the county said. However, the insect is a plant stressor and can cause significant damage to trees, plants, and shrubs. Spotted lanternflies also secrete a sticky, pungent residue that is not only foul-smelling but can be messy for homeowners. 

Knowing what to look for and when is key to combating the spotted lanternfly, the county said. Residents may notice the spotted lanternfly in a larval state between April and July. In this stage, the larvae will be black with white dots. By July, the larvae will have an orange/red color along with black and white dots. 

The insect will reach adulthood starting in late July. At this time, spotted lanternflies will have wings with black dots and will measure about an inch long. 

Between September and November, the insect will begin laying egg masses that resemble a gray-brown mud material on trees. These eggs will survive over the winter before the process begins again the following spring. 

"Generally speaking, spotted lanternflies are found predominantly on trees, shrubs, and other vegetation," the county said. "However, they can be found on anything, including vehicles and buildings." 

The following are options for controlling spotted lanternflies, listed in order of the most environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient options to the least. It is recommended starting with the first option and progressing through the list only if the other options do not achieve results. 

  • Inspection of vehicles before leaving and returning home: Checking your vehicle for any spotted lanternfly life stages can go a long way in preventing spotted lanternflies from traveling to or from your property. Be sure to inspect the surfaces and wheel wells of all vehicles, and encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. 

  • Cultural control: Spotted lanternflies feed on more than 70 species of plants, but the tree of heaven is the insect’s preferred host. Like the spotted lanternfly, the tree of heaven is also an invasive species from Asia. By removing this tree from your property, you reduce the likelihood of a spotted lanternfly infestation. 

  • Physical/mechanical control: Remove the spotted lanternfly threat by scraping, smashing, swatting, stomping or using traps to eliminate eggs, nymphs, and moths. 

  • Reduced-toxicity chemical control: Begin by using the least-toxic chemical options first, such as insecticidal soaps, botanical oils and pyrethrum. 

  • Chemical control: Use EPA-registered chemicals as contact or systemic applications, including dinotefuran, bifenthrin, zeta-cypermethrin, and carbaryl. These may have a longer lasting effect. 

"For your safety, the safety of the environment and by law, those who choose reduced-toxicity chemical control or chemical control must follow the chemicals’ instruction labels," the county said. "A chemical control may also warrant a certified applicator."

For more information, contact Franklin County’s Penn State Extension Office at 717-263-9226 or click here for a Spotted Lanternfly Management Guide. 

Download the FOX43 app here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out