There’s a new pest in town—and this landscaper is fighting back

There’s a new pest in town—and this landscaper is fighting back

First found in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014, the Spotted Lanternfly has been making its way to other regions ever since. The most recent data as of publication time showed that this pest has been found in nine total states—but is expected to continue to spread across the country. Because this invasive species is decimating trees and shrubs in its wake, some landscaping companies in affected regions are adding a Spotted Lanternfly treatment option to their program offerings.

Terra Lawn Care Specialists in Collegeville, Pennsylvania is amongst them. Their outdoor pest control division now offers Spotted Lanternfly treatments as well as mosquito, flea, tick, and perimeter pest control. It’s been popular among their residential client base in the suburban Philadelphia region.

Protecting the landscape

According to Fred Oskanian, the company’s general manager, the addition of a Spotted Lanternfly treatment program has made a lot of sense considering they’re already out working on the landscape. The company’s Tree and Shrub Care program offers plant health care treatments to protect landscape plants. But Spotted Lanternflies were still a threat to the landscaping.

Terra Lawn Care tackles Spotted Lanternflies with two different treatment options, depending upon the time of the year.

In the beginning of the season (April or early May), they’ll use a systemic treatment that is distributed through the tree via a root injection. This will kill the pests once they begin feeding on the tree—preventing them from doing any serious damage. The Spotted Lanternfly begins feeding on tree and shrub leaves and branches during its nymph stage.

If it’s later in the season and the Spotted Lanternfly is in a later stage—and more aggressively feeding—Terra Lawn Care will utilize a foliar spray to kill this pest upon contact.

During an infestation of Spotted Lanternflies, trees and shrubs ultimately start dripping with a black fungus called sooty mold. It grows on the sugar rich honeydew drippings that the Spotted Lanternflies excrete. Besides being incredibly unattractive, this sooty mold also begins to attract other pests to the trees or shrubs like flies and ants. Since the Spotted Lanternfly first emerged in his region, Oskanian says he’s seen many plants lost to it. He’s pleased to be able to now have an effective solution.

dding a Spotted Lanternfly treatment program

The equipment needed for Spotted Lanternfly treatments can fit in the truck and be used by trained crews who are out offering other services.Terra Lawn Care Specialists

Oskanian says that their Spotted Lanternfly treatment program can be offered as a stand-alone service or an add-on to a program for existing clients. Though it seems a number of companies out there are jumping into the Spotted Lanternfly market—viewing the emergence of this pest as a sales opportunity—Oskanian says it makes the most sense for a landscaping company that is already caring for trees and shrubs to offer something like this.

“It’s a natural transition for lawn and landscaping companies to offer treatment options that will protect their trees and shrubs from this destructive pest,” he says. “Many of our clients were already investing in our plant health care program so the last thing they wanted was to lose their trees and shrubs to this invasive pest.”

In terms of the equipment, it’s quite similar to what lawn and landscaping crews are already accustomed to using for a plant health care program. Since the pest first emerged, Oskanian says the products on the market have really improved. They’re currently using Zylam from PBI-Gordon.

Educating the client

In addition to treating for these pests, Terra Lawn Care’s crews are also educating area homeowners about how to spot and get rid of egg masses that they might find in the fall and winter one the active season has passed.

“The Spotted Lanternfly likes to leave its egg masses on hard surfaces like rocks, hardscaping, siding, sheds, and even cars, the last of which is also how they’re being transported to other regions,” Oskanian explains. “We educate our clients on what these look like so that they can destroy them and prevent future infestations.” 

The egg masses are said to look like splatters of mud or unevenly spread mortar smeared on a surface. According to the Penn State Extension, egg masses can be scraped off carefully into a sandwich bag that is filled with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. This will kill the eggs. Penn State experts recommend sealing the bag and then double-bagging it before disposing of it. Because of how highly destructive these pests can be (and the threat that they pose to agriculture), everyone doing their part to get rid of them is important.