Cold, wet winter could limit the spotted lanternfly in region

Mark Abrams
February 25, 2019 - 4:00 am
spotted lanternfly.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The frigid, wet winter weather we've experienced so far this winter may have a positive benefit: a reduction in the spotted lanternfly population. 

Those colorful pests - which pose a danger to fruit trees, grape vines, hardwoods and ornamentals in several counties in southeastern Pennsylvania - usually lay their eggs in the fall and hatch in the spring.

"They lay a patch of 30 to 50 eggs. It looks like a little mud splat and they lay it on barks of trees, but they'll lay it on any kind of surface," said Mark Boudreau, a biologist from Penn State University's Brandywine campus who has been studying the spotted lanternfly since its arrival in the region five years ago.

These are places that could be exposed to the weather. 

But Boudreau says some of the bugs look for hiding places, too, before laying their eggs.

Donald Seifrit, a Penn State University extension agent with expertise on the pest's impact on fruit trees, says we'll know within a few months. 

"We'll probably start seeing at the end of April, and then things will continue to hatch throughout May and all the way up until June, July," Seifrit said. 

But fungi, a natural living organism that likes wet conditions we've been experiencing, is likely to be plentiful this spring and summer and is lethal to the bugs.