'It's raining spotted lanternflies': Delaware Valley sees invasive pest in large numbers

Spotted lanternflies are an invasive and annoying bug making a full and overwhelming comeback in the Delaware Valley in 2022.

Fortunately, there are a few things people can do to stop their spread.

"They’re destroying trees and plants. I’ve seen signs to please stomp them," Gavyn Essner lamented. "They are down there in these baby trees. This is four days worth and it’s covered."

For three years in a row, Essner has been at war. It’s a war against the spotted lanternfly. His backyard in Williamstown, N.J. is infested with the invasive bugs. Not harmful to humans, but they are killing off trees and vegetation, and covered just about everything in his yard in a dark, sooty mold.

"This was the worst year, so far. The previous years we’ve seen them here and there, nothing major, but this, by far, is the worst," Essner explained. "I had to wrap tape around the trees this year. It was like it was raining lanterflies when you walk outside."

Now, in their "Instar" stage, big adults will soon be swarming. Best to stomp and kill them, but Essner says they just keep coming.

"I’m on five or six rolls by now and they’re still accumulating," Essner said. "We’ll stick with this, it’s the best we got."

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive, non-native insect from Asia. They feed off fruit trees, woody trees, ornamental trees, grapes and grape vines, vegetables and herbs. In their wake, they leave a sticky mass on leaves, branches and bark. People are encouraged to check their vehicles for the bugs, as they are excellent hitchhikers and will easily travel outside a quarantine zone once attached to vehicles or trailers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has put out a spotted lanternfly alert. More information on the bug and how to report them to officials can be found here. All Pennsylvania counties in the Delaware and Lehigh valleys are in a spotted lanternfly quarantine.

Many communities are taking action against the pest. Through the summer, Camden County will be spraying lanterfly pesticides at county parks, including, later this week at Cooper River Park.