Delaware stepping up measures to reduce spotted lanternfly population

DOVER, Delaware (WPVI) -- The Delaware Department of Agriculture is working to reduce the spotted lanternfly population after expanding the range of an impacted area of Odessa in New Castle County.

Environmental scientists say spotted lanternfly babies, known as nymphs, are commonly seen now and will mature by the end of the month.

Nymphs are wingless and are all black with white spots. Mature spotted laternflies have wings, with red markers under each wing, and look similar to a moth.

State officials said the insect is a destructive invasive plant hopper that attacks many hosts including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes and hops. The insect is detrimental to Delaware's agricultural industry, forests, and residential areas.

So far, state officials said 4,088 acres have been treated in New Castle County, including 20,135 trees encompassing 185 properties above the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

Tree of heaven is necessary for the spotted lanternfly to reproduce and eliminating this invasive species helps to decrease the population of spotted lanternfly, according to state experts. This tree is often seen in industrial parks, along highways and railways, and in unmanaged areas or vacant lots.

"Due to the mild winter, we have experienced a high hatch rate of spotted lanternfly nymphs. This is consistent with the reports we are receiving from New Castle County residents who are asking how to get rid of this pest," said DDA Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof. "The treatment program is focused on properties that have tree of heaven present, but we know from surveying that many homeowners are finding the nymphs on other plants in their landscapes as well.

We are encouraging homeowners experiencing outbreaks of this pest to use insecticides labeled for planthoppers or leafhoppers to kill nymphs and adult spotted lanternfly. If homeowners don't feel comfortable applying insecticides themselves, they can hire a commercially licensed turf and ornamental pesticide applicator to conduct treatments."
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.