Read on for information about how you can protect your parks against a new invasive insect called the spotted lanternfly.

Photo: Penn State

Spotted Lanternfly

Everyone’s help is needed to battle a new pest: the spotted lanternfly (SLF). This is an invasive insect from Asia that’s already being reported heavily in Allegheny Commons Park and Brighton Heights, so it’s likely to be in your Northside neighborhood soon. Allegheny County along with several other counties is now under “quarantine” for the pest. The lanternflies are voracious eaters and prey on 172 different species of plants. Early nymph stages prefer vines, including grapevine and multiflora rose. Adult stages generally prefer trees including boxelder maples and Tree of Heaven. Typically, their eating will not kill an adult tree alone, but their excrement (honeydew) will block photosynthesis on leaves, and encourage other “guests” such as bees, flies, and wasps. Honeydew can also lead to a deadly mold on trees which will kill the tree eventually. Vineyard farmers in Pennsylvania are reporting up to 90% of crop loss. Other industries such as the hardwoods and fruit sectors are expected to struggle as well with the invasion. 

The bug has a few different stages: the nymph stage lasts from May to July, where they turn from black to a red coloration in June. The adult stage is what we are currently seeing, which starts in May. SLF can lay up to three batches of eggs in mid-September and adults will die off after the first frost.  Egg masses will hatch in warmer weather (typically May). Egg masses look like a concrete smear (typically an inch to an inch and a half in size). Typically, they are found on smooth surfaces including tree trunks, park benches, and even the wheel wells of cars. It is important to kill any and all stages of this bug and report it to the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.

More traps will be installed throughout Pittsburgh parks. Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is monitoring the traps, so please leave them alone. They will be drilled into unwanted trees (Tree of Heavens) and checked every three weeks.

“The spotted lanternfly is more than a pest in the literal sense,” Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “Whether you think it’s your job or not, we need every Pennsylvanian to keep their eyes peeled for signs of this bad bug—to scrape every egg mass, squash every bug, and report every sighting. We need to unite in our hatred for this pest for our common love: Pennsylvania.”

Riverview Park Upcoming Events

Events will be held outside and the number of participants will be limited in order to maintain safe distancing. Please email Ranger Nancy at Riverviewpark.pgh@gmail.com for more information or to register:

Tree Hike: Sunday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m.

Litter Pickers:  Saturday, Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. 

Full Moon Night Hike: Monday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Reading on the Playground: Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m.

Nancy Schaefer is a City of Pittsburgh Park Ranger in the Northside’s Riverview Park.

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