Spotted lanternflies captured on a sticky band. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State
There is a new invasive insect in Pennsylvania, Lycorma delicatula, commonly known as the spotted lanternfly (SLF). This insect can damage apples, grapes, hops, and ornamental and hardwood trees. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) are trying to contain the infestation, reduce populations of this pest and possibly eradicate it. These efforts rely on cooperation from everyone including residents, property owners, municipalities, and businesses. Several different ways of controlling SLF are being used, and more are being developed from on-going scientific experiments.
Young spotted lanternfly nymphs captured on a sticky band. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State
Spotted lanternflies are often found moving up and down on tree trunks. These moving SLF can be captured on the sticky surfaces of bands placed around trees. This method can effectively destroy many SLF without using insecticides. Sticky bands are usually placed about 4 feet from the bottom of a tree and secured to the tree with a push pin. The stickiness of the type of band you are using will determine how effectively you can catch different life stages of SLF. Less sticky types of bands can capture the younger nymphs, but might not capture the oldest nymphs or adults very well.
Sticky bands placed on trees can destroy many spotted lanternflies. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State
Older stages of SLF are sometimes strong enough to walk across the less sticky bands without getting stuck, and they may actually avoid the bands entirely. Be careful when discarding used sticky bands–some of the SLF that have been captured may still be alive. To eliminate the possibility of spreading any living SLF, either double-bag the bands before discarding them, or burn the bands if allowed by your municipality. One drawback of using sticky bands is that they can capture other creatures. Other insects are often caught, and some of them may be beneficial insects. Occasionally a bird (such as a woodpecker), small mammal (such as a squirrel), or other animals have been captured. Think about this possibility and have a plan for how you would react to this situation before using sticky bands.
How to avoid bycatch on bands
When banding for SLF, it is possible that you may accidentally trap non-target animals. This can include beneficial insects and while rare, may also include small mammals (bats, squirrels, woodpeckers, etc.). To avoid capturing these mammals, we recommend that you make the width of the band smaller, so that there is less surface area for an animal to come into contact with. You can also put wiring, such as chicken wire, over the band, to prevent animals from contacting the sticky surface. Both of these methods have been tried and work well to reduce bycatch. You may also use the petroleum jelly method (described below), which is not known to capture mammals. Some companies make commercially available bands that have a built-in guard to prevent mammal by-catch, and these also work well. If you decide to band, please check your bands regularly (once per week). In the event that you capture a mammal, do not attempt to free it yourself. You may put the animal and yourself in danger. Remove the band from the tree as carefully as possible, and take the animal to your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
How to obtain sticky bands
There are several types and sources of sticky bands: bands supplied to residents who volunteer in a program offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), commercially available bands, and home-made bands.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Volunteer Program bands
The PDA has been using sticky bands made with brown paper. In 2018, the PDA will supply sticky bands (as limited supplies allow), to residents who participate in the PDA’s official volunteer program. Volunteers must live in the quarantined area. In spring 2018, the following 13 counties are included in the quarantined area: Berks, Schuylkill, Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Lehigh, Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Lancaster and Lebanon.
PDA map of the current quarantined area
PDA volunteers will band only Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven). Volunteers must change the bands every two weeks and report the number of SLF captured into the PDA database. If you are interested in completing the training required to participate in the PDA volunteer program in 2018, send your contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your name, phone numbers, email address, mailing address and the municipality of the property where you will place the bands) or call 610-391-9840 to sign up. Potential volunteers will be contacted with information about the training and where they can pick up banding supplies.
Commercially available bands
If you do not want to be an official volunteer in the PDA program or if you are interested in using sticky bands to kill SLF on trees other than tree of heaven, you can purchase a variety of types of sticky bands from several commercial sources. These can often be found at your local garden or hardware store, and may be sold as flypaper. Some companies sell tree banding kits that consist of a roll of tree wrap and a sticky substance to spread onto the wrap. There is a commercially available band that uses a white fiber material to hold the inward-facing sticky side of the band away from the trunk of the tree. This creates a somewhat protected sticky surface which may lower the potential of catching birds and other animals.
Tree bands you can make
You can wrap several widths of duct tape around a tree trunk, sticky side facing in, and coat it with a sticky substance such as petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly can discolor bark or even injure the bark of young trees, so avoid getting it on the bark.
Making a Sticky Barrier Band
Some residents have used other materials including duct tape with the sticky side facing outward or fly paper, to band their trees. By using sticky bands, people who care for trees are able to capture and kill many SLF, especially in their early nymphal stages. This is one method that can reduce SLF populations in the infested area. Sticky bands are also useful to monitor for SLF in areas where it has not been found.