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Invasive Spotted Lantern Flies and Natural Predation

 
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Hi everyone, I am in Pennsylvania, USA. For several years now there has been a rising awareness and panic about Spotted Lantern Flies (SLF). They eat trees, have no apparent predators, and they are spreading fast around here. As of now, my property is infested. They are attracted to Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus Altissima), which is in itself considered to be an invasive tree. The SLF is destructive and they are fast multipliers. The big concern around here is fruit trees, which are significant to the economy of central PA.

On my property I have killed every Tree of Heaven I have found (I was doing this before I heard of (SLF) because the trees are good for biomass, and because they multiply and take over if you don't cut them. Even still, they bounce right back from the roots and suckers, and some of my neighbors have them too, and their samaras (seeds) spread everywhere. So I am fighting a losing battle. This summer I have killed hundreds of SLF, and there is no sign of them going away.

My first choice was to enlist the chickens and get them involved in the hunt. The chickens are terrified. They actually run away and hide when they see a SLF. The SLF has bright red on its underwings, which I know can be a warning to predators. I have removed these wings in an attempt to convince they chickens, but they are still scared. I eventually coaxed one into pecking at one with the red removed, and after a single peck she dropped it and ran away. No other chickens even went to investigate.  These birds free range everywhere and eat everything. But not SLF.

I do not really have a plan B other than to burn the whole forest down, which I don't want to do.
 
gardener
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Hi T S,
I know for many pests, people will often plant decoys they don't want or don't care about, in an attempt to draw the pest away. I know people who will plant crab apple trees just in the woods and on the outskirts of the orchard to attract some pests. Maybe you should let the tree of heaven grow and the SLF will be attracted to it more than the fruit trees?
 
pollinator
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They arrived where I was living in NJ last year.My neighbour’s vines were covered in them. He only grows them for the shade, not grapes. I killed hundreds. By mid April, they were back, but this time the nymphs. SLF lay their eggs almost anywhere and on anything including metal poles. They eggs survive very harsh winters.

They look like this :







I wrote a about SLF here.

There are some good tips . . . Summarising:

Chickens wont eat them.
They like milkweed and it’s toxic to them.
Encourage wasps and preying mantis.
Plant sacrificial sunflowers and beans.

Basically, go full permaculture encouraging predators and diversity. We’re going to have to live with them . . .
 
steward
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I read that the best way to get rid of the Spotted Lantern Flies was to destroy the eggs.
 
Edward Norton
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