Which of these spotted lantern myths do you believe?

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As the spotted lantern fly and its impacts continue to spread in Pennsylvania, myths and misinformation about the invasive Asian leafhopper have also grown and spread.

Heather Leach, extension associate at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, heard them all.

“People who are dealing with spotted lanterns are frustrated and worried,” she said. “In their search for answers, they are sometimes ready to believe or to try anything. But it’s never a good idea to take questionable information at face value.

Most insect myths are relatively harmless, but some could cause harm or cause harm.

Here are some of the most common myths.

The spotted lantern needs the tree of the sky to reproduce.

This is not the case, said Kelli Hoover, professor of entomology.

His lab studied the insect’s reproductive cycle and found that Ailanthus altissima, an invasive tree commonly known as the tree of the sky, is the pest’s preferred host, but the spotted lantern can produce offspring without it.

“We raised spotted lanterns from egg to adult, and they reproduced without ever having access to the tree of heaven,” Hoover said.

Development from egg to adult was slightly faster when the spotted lanterns received the tree from the sky, suggesting that it is a good host for them, but they also managed to produce a another generation when they were fed silver maple, willow and river birch.

But, Hoover warned, the Tree of Heaven remains attractive to spotted lanterns and should be removed if affordable and feasible.

Homemade pesticides are safe and effective against the spotted lantern fly.

Homeowners may be tempted to use home remedies that include household items such as dish soap, window cleaner, vinegar, salt, garlic, or cayenne pepper, for spotted lanterns on their homes. properties.

But some ingredients and mixtures could harm humans, pets and plants, said Emelie Swackhamer, a horticultural extension educator in Montgomery County. Homemade insecticides do not include precise instructions for use, may not be effective, and may even be illegal.

She suggests non-chemical control methods such as destroying egg masses, crushing insects with fly swatches, trapping them, and removing the tree from the sky.

For homeowners who choose chemical control, she recommends that they use a registered insecticide, research the pros and cons, and go with the less toxic options first, including organic or natural insecticides.

“People who want to kill spotted lanterns effectively and safely with insecticides should follow the instructions carefully,” she said. “Every situation is different. No single method will work for everyone. And all insecticides pose safety risks, requiring careful use.

Pressure washing destroys spotted fly eggs.

It could physically remove egg masses from surfaces, but there is no evidence that it kills eggs. And high pressure sprays can cause permanent damage to trees and other living plants.

The most effective way to destroy egg masses is to scrape them off with a plastic card or putty knife, then place the masses in a bag or container with rubbing alcohol or disinfectant for them. hands. Throw the bag in the trash. They can also be broken or burnt.

Milkweed is toxic to the spotted lantern fly.

While the cardiac glycosides in milkweed leaves are toxic to most species of birds and mammals, there is no evidence that they are toxic to the spotted lantern fly, according to Leach.

Spotted lanterns are bioluminescent.

Despite the lantern name, it is not a relative of the firefly. Julie Urban, associate research professor in the Department of Entomology at Penn State, said the lantern referred to the insect family Fulgoridae (named after Fulgora, the Roman goddess of lightning), which was selected because the Scientists once believed that the enlarged domes of insects harbored bioluminescent bacteria. . They don’t.

To learn more about the insect, visit the Penn State Extension spotted lantern fly website.

Contact Marcus Schneck at [email protected].

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