I have read about the anticipated spotted lanterfly invasion this Spring. I have 100, mature arbor vitae lining my property rather densely packed. Should I be concerned of losing my trees?
Cecil County Maryland
The spotted lanternfly is a planthopper type of insect pest that was first found in Pennsylvania in 2015. It has spread through a number of counties in PA, and has been found in Delaware (1 insect). It lays its egg masses on tree trunks, boards, cinder blocks, and in car wheel wells, among other places. Its preferred host is the tree of heaven, Ailanthus. As this insect is not very well established in the U.S. we are learning about its effects on other plants. It seems to feed on fruits such as grape, and fruit trees such as peach and apple. We know little about its host range overall. It does not produce visible damage on trees and shrubs, and will not kill trees and shrubs. The main effect from the spotted lanternfly is the production of honeydew which is the excrement of the planthopper. It is sticky and sweet and then a fungus called sooty mold will grow on that goo. So, the insect is a real nuisance, but not an aggressive plant feeder and plant destroyer. Keep an eye out for flattened egg masses that look a bit like old grey flat chewy gum spots, on tree bark and boards. If you do suspect you see it, contact your local Maryland Extension Office to confirm, and take a picture of it. The eggs will not hatch until late April or early May, and the first stage will be small.
Watch out for bagworms on your arborvitae. Thank you for looking out for this new spotted lanternfly insect pest and thank you for contacting Cooperative Extension.