Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Just Keep Squishing: Harrisburg helps prepare residents for spotted lanternflies, offers traps

Spotted lanternflies can be recognized by the black dots on their wings.

One summer pest is coming back and headed to feast on your trees. 

Spotted lanternfly season has returned and Harrisburg has advice for residents on how to eliminate the invasive species. 

According to Harrisburg Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director David Baker, this year’s lanternfly season will be just as bad as the last.

“Personally, I think the numbers will stay close to the same,” he said.

Spotted lanternflies are known for the black dots on their wings. They feast on trees such as walnut, maple, willow and oak, sucking out the sap, causing young trees to die and halting the growth of mature trees, according to the city. They also release a substance called honeydew that can cause mold on plants like grapes, apples and hops. According to a study from Penn State University, if not contained, spotted lanternflies could cause at least $324 million worth of damage to the Pennsylvania economy. Although they can be damaging to plants, they are harmless to humans and animals.

The best way to stop these creatures? Kill them. 

Harrisburg’s parks department is handing out free tree traps to Harrisburg residents to catch these pesky critters.

The city will offer both circle and sticky band traps. The circle trap is made of nylon window screening and wrapped around a tree, working like a reverse funnel so that, when the insects try to climb back up the tree, they are led into a plastic bag that they cannot escape from, the city explained.

The sticky band traps work the same way, with flypaper wrapped around the tree and window screening to keep other insects and birds from getting stuck, according to the city. The spotted lanternflies will then get stuck to the flypaper in their attempt to climb up and suck on the tree’s sap.

“These traps can easily and cheaply be made at home and are one of the most effective ways to capture adult spotted lanternflies,” said Baker.

Certain insecticides may also work to kill spotted lanternflies.

While adult spotted lanternflies will emerge in July, now is the time to prepare and protect your trees from these bugs, according to the city.

Spotted lanternfly traps can be picked up at the Harrisburg Public Safety building at 123 Walnut St. or at the Reservoir Park Mansion at 100 Concert Dr., between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

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