U.S. Department of Agriculture
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking Connecticut residents for their help detecting the invasive spotted lanternfly.
The lanternfly feeds on and destroys local crops, plants and trees, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is calling on residents to keep an eye out for the insect and its eggs.
The spotted lanternfly is native to China and Vietnam but was first spotted in the United States in 2014 and has since infested at least 14 states, including Connecticut.
It was first spotted in Farmington in 2018, followed by sightings in Southbury in 2019. In 2020, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven announced that adult spotted lanternflies also were detected in New Canaan. The USDA said they have recently been spotted in Greenwich and West Haven.
The good news is that people are on the frontlines of finding and fighting the spread of this deadly pest,” the USDA said in a statement. In addition to the insects themselves, experts are worried about the spread of their eggs.
The spotted lanternfly lays mud-like egg masses on things like bikes, cars, moving vans, trains, planes, boats, buses, tree bark, lawnmowers, grills and other items. Once they hatch, they target crops and plants such as tree-of-haven grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees, the USDA said.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
- Egg masses vary in size.
- The masses are typically an inch long by 3/4 of an inch wide.
- The female secretes a white, waxy substance over the eggs to protect the mass.
- When dried, the egg masses they look like light grayish splotches of mud, cement, or lichen.
- Each mass holds 30 to 50 eggs.
Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State Extension.
WHEN TO FIND THEM
You can find spotted lanternfly egg masses from September to June.
The insects are in their egg mass stage in the spring, which experts said is the best time to find and remove them, so the USDA is urging residents to look for their egg masses and crush them if they see them.
HOW TO DESTROY THEM
Once you’ve found lanternfly egg masses, destroying them is easy!
Option 1: Crushing
- Crush the eggs by dragging a credit card, putty knife, or another hard implement across the egg mass.
- The eggs will pop as you press down. You may see liquid released as the eggs underneath burst.
Crush lanternfly egg masses with a credit card or other flat item. Photo: Penn State Extension video.
Option 2: Scraping
- Fill a plastic baggie with a few ounces of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
- Scrape the eggs off the surface with a credit card, putty knife, or butter knife into the bag.
- Make sure the eggs come in contact with the alcohol/sanitizer. The eggs must remain in the alcohol solution.
- Take the bag, place it in another bag, and discard it.
Scrape egg masses into a bag filled with some alcohol or sanitizer. Photo: Nancy Bosold, Penn State Extension.
“It’s critical to slow the spread of this pest in Connecticut before it reaches all 50 states and does irreparable damage to our nation’s agriculture,” the USDA said in its statement.
Anyone who spots the insect or its eggs outside of Greenwich and West Haven is asked to send photos to ReportSLF@ct.gov or report the sighting via this submission form.
For more information, the USDA recommends visiting HungryPests.com or StopSLF.org.