So, you need to get rid of lanternflies around your home or garden. And you need to do it fast.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process to get rid of these annoying pests. And we’ll go over it step-by-step.
Lanternflies may not seem like much, but they’re fully capable of destroying your trees and plants.
So you’ll want to act quickly, especially if it’s hatching season for them.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about identifying, extermination, controlling, and preventing lanternflies.
We’ll go over multiple natural DIY methods you can do at home to kill, repel, and prevent these pests.
(Be sure to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it on your journey to rid these pests!)
Sound good? Let’s get rid of some lantern bugs!
Last updated: 12/30/19.
What’s a lanternfly?
The spotted lanternfly has been considered as an invasive species that are common in southern Pennsylvania.
These annoying bugs typically will eat fruit trees by eating the sap produced by the tree. This is destructive because they’ll literally leave a bunch of gaping wounds all over the tree.
They also leave behind a trail of black markings along the bark that they feed on.
Lanternflies appears in huge numbers and often disturb and annoy homeowners. If you’re the outdoorsy person and you’ve been in a lanternfly swarm, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Getting rid of lanternflies isn’t easy either because of their large numbers.
However, if you really want to reduce their population or protect your fruit trees, there are a few things you can do.
Other common names
There are many common names for the lanternfly.
Some other common aliases of lanternflies are:
- Spotted Lanternfly
- Lantern bugs
- Lycorma delicatula
- They also often are confused with tiny butterflies or moths.
The Spotted Lanternfly is the most popular species of lanternfly. They have a striking combination of colors and almost look like miniature butterflies.
They’re a highly invasive species originating from China and was the first round in southern PA.
The pest can easily spread and migrate to neighboring states.
The female lanternfly lays her eggs on pretty much any surface- including trees, leaves, homes, outdoor equipment, and even your car!
This makes it very easy for the pest to migrate all over the US and is one of the reasons why they’ve become so prevalent.
Do they bite?
No, lanternflies don’t bite or sting humans. They’re also not known to carry or transmit diseases to humans.
So, that means they can’t really harm you (directly).
But they can damage your foliage, plants, and trees. They can also damage your home by leaving a trail of residue. Or they may simply just be annoying to deal with in the yard.
Do they fly?
Yes, they can fly.
However, their flight capabilities are very poor and they typically jump from plant to plant rather than fly. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t fly- they’re just not good at it.
These bugs have a simple appearance that makes them look like small moths. They’re about 1” long and 0.5” wide. They have gray forewings with black spots as adults.
When they’re flying, the wings look different. The red wings are exposed with black wings expanded at the same time.
They’re actually very colorful flying pests, and some may even mistake them for a small butterfly.
They have a large black head with black legs. Their abdomen typically is a lighter shade with a distinct black-banded patterning.
Their colorful wings are only shown during flight.
As a nymph, they don’t have developed wings yet so they look completely black with white spots. Then they turn to red with black streaks and white spots. They have 6 black legs at all parts of their lifecycle
Lanternfly life cycle
Lanternflies have a basic lifecycle and can go through their entire life in just a year.
Breeding season is during the warmer months when summer is just about to start (May). Eggs will hatch from May to June, and the newly-hatched lanternflies (nymphs) will cycle through 4 instars before reaching full maturity in July.
The typical lanternfly becomes an adult in just 4 months.
When they’re first born, they have no wings and are often confused with baby stink bugs– as they have a very similar appearance.
As they mature, they’ll start to form white spots with a black abdomen. Then they change to red with black spots in the final instar molt. After that, they’ll mate as now they’re a full adult.
After mating, they’ll lay eggs again and they cycle continues. They can lay eggs from summer to early winter.
Lanternfly eggs are easy to spot and have a sticky coating to protect them and keep them glued to various objects.
Eggs will remain throughout the winter and hatch next spring. The remaining adult population doesn’t survive the cold winter.
Do lanternflies damage vegetation?
Nymphs are actually very dangerous towards plants as they walk up and down the plant to eat. This is where making a tree band or tree trap works best.
Lanternflies pose threats for many timber, orchard, and vineyard businesses as they can damage the crops within just a few weeks. And they also leave behind their honeydew secretions.
The residue they leave behind also attracts many other pests to the area and can produce even more trouble.
Are spotted Lanternflies dangerous?
Laternflies may seem like just an annoying little pest eating up your fruit trees, but they’re actually much more damaging than that.
Spotted Lanternflies will actually leave behind a sticky honeydew substance that’ll eventually turn into black or gray mold. It almost looks like someone smeared charcoal all over your trees.
The problem with this is that although you may not really care about this trail on your trees. What about if it were on your house?
They’ll leave a nasty honeydew stain
It happens. If lanternflies were to walk on your home’s walls, steps, decks, your outhouse, your shed, or even your car, they’ll leave behind this black residue which will start to mold and discolor surfaces.
Even for those who don’t have fruit trees, lanternflies can come from your neighbors or even across town.
Whatever they land on, they’ll leave this trail. This mold will start to accumulate over time and you’ll see the colors of your home turn to black or gray.
And for those who do own fruit trees, your home is just a target caught in the line of fire.
Over time, the pests will eventually come into contact with your home and start to discolor it. This is why it’s imperative to rid them ASAP.
They don’t only eat fruit trees
Lantern flies are attracted to fruit trees, but that’s not all they’ll feed on.
They’re also known to eat various plants (both indoor and outdoor), along with flowering plants.
They don’t eat the fruit from the tree, but just the tree bark.
Here are some other plants that Spotted Lanternflies will eat:
And that’s not all for these voracious pests, they’ve been documented to feed on over 70 types of trees.
The USDA has recognized them as an invasive species relatively new to the US. This explains exactly why we’re so unprepared for them.
What trees do Lanternflies like?
They’ll eat anything and everything they can land on.
Some of the most common trees and plants laternflies eat:
- Hardwood trees
- American beech
- Black gum
- Paper birch
- Pignut hickory
- Paper birch
- Slippery elm
- White ash
- Big-toothed aspen
- Tree of heaven
Do Spotted Lanternflies die in the winter?
Yes, the adult lanternflies don’t survive the winter.
However, the eggs doo and this is when the new generation comes out the following spring.
So even though you have temporary relief from pests, you’ll want to remove the eggs before they hatch next spring and take over your home.
Can Spotted Lanternflies kill trees?
While it’s definitely possible for lanternflies to kill a tree, chances are, the tree will be OK.
They’ll leave a bunch of gaping wounds oozing with tree sap all over the tree along with blackened trails of honeydew mold.
But the tree can restore the damaged parts provided that you don’t let the lanternflies eat the tree for too long uncontrolled. If you let them eat it up, or if the tree was neglected and already in bad shape, the tree may be killed. So be sure to act quickly.
How do you protect trees from Lanternflies?
The easiest way would be to use a combination of two traps.
You’ll want to use both of these together, if possible, for maximum effectiveness so you can protect your trees from lanternfly damage.
Use sticky bands around your trees. You can buy or make your own fly bands at home. Wrap them around the tree above 4 feet above the ground.
Make sure you leave no gaps under the band so they can crawl through. For taller trees, you can wrap them around the various bark and branches so you have more coverage.
Set up jar traps. You can place jar traps around your trees, or hang them.
The flies will be attracted to the jar traps and get killed by dish soap. You can read about making these DIY lanternfly traps later in this tutorial.
Or you can keep reading for more hints and tips to get rid of these pests and get them under control!
Where do Lantern flies lay their eggs?
Lanteflies will lay their eggs literally everywhere.
This includes your car, home, trees, shrubs, shed, outhouse, patio, awning, patio deck, furniture, woodpiles, leaf litter, foliage (stems, leaves, and bark), or anything else they can touch.
There is no specific area where they’ll lay eggs- anything goes!
This is why when you go around hunting for eggs, you need to make sure you check everywhere. One single missed clutch is up to two dozen newborn lanternflies on average.
How do you kill a spotted Lanternfly egg?
There are many ways to kill a Spotted Lanternfly egg.
The easiest way would be none other than the simply scrape the egg off and dunk the egg clutch in a solution of dish soap. You can also use vinegar or rubbing alcohol also.
You can also safely burn the eggs in a controlled fire. Be sure to at least do something with the eggs, because if you don’t they can still hatch and you’ll have more pests to deal with.
Whether you have to crush them, burn them, or drown them, just be sure you take care of the unborn lanternflies and don’t give them a chance to hatch.
Lanternfly natural predators
Believe it or not, these flies have no natural predators here in the US.
That doesn’t mean that nothing will eat these pests, but out of the few things that will eat them, their numbers are low.
In other words, you won’t find many predators of lanternflies that easily. Some of the most common predators are various spiders, praying mantises, assassin bugs, and a few others.
But you won’t be able to naturally “attract” enough of these predators to come to help you control the lanternfly population. So this wouldn’t be a practical approach.
How to get rid of lanternflies naturally
There are many ways you can get rid of the Spotted Lanternfly at home without having to spend a lot of money.
Here are some of the most effective, natural, and cheapest (and easiest) DIY home remedies to get rid of these pests.
The trick is to use a combination of these methods to see what works best for you. When you find it, scale up and apply it everywhere.
Remove the eggs
You can reduce, control, and manage spotted lanternfly populations in your yard by reducing the number of eggs.
This is a quick, effective, and free way to get rid of them. All it’ll cost you is some manual labor, but it beats out having these things buzz around you all day every day.
And because no harmful residues are left behind, this is a natural way to get rid of lanternflies.
The eggs can be scraped off with a scraper or tool. You can use a gum scraper with a wide scrape to easily remove the eggs from various surfaces.
After you scrape them off, put them into a small container with soap and water (you can use any dish detergent) to kill off the eggs.
Note that if you squish the eggs, this won’t necessarily kill them effectively. So it’s always preferable to let them sit in soapy water or even burn them in a controlled fire.
Be sure to look for lanternfly eggs on a weekly basis.
Some common areas to look are the following:
- Leaf litter
- Home walls
- Patio decks
- Cracks and crevices
Lanternfly spray using Dawn dish soap
You can kill Spotted Lanternfly bugs by using a mixture of dish soap. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Dawn brand- any dish soap will work.
This isn’t exactly a natural way to get rid of lanternflies, but it’s pretty safe for humans, pets, and kids nonetheless.
However, most people just seem to use Dawn for some reason to kill lanternflies. This will also kill lanternflies on contact.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup dish soap
- 1 cup water
- Spray bottle
How to make it:
- Combine the dish soap and water together into a spray bottle.
- Swirl gently until they mix together.
How to use it:
- You can spray this mixture directly onto lanternflies to kill them. The sticky mixture will easily drown them in soap and you even use this DIY pesticide on lanternfly eggs. Of course, you should always scrape off the eggs after you spray them just to be sure.
- If you decide to go around spraying this stuff all over the bugs, be sure to clean up the dead lanternflies from your home or tree. If you don’t, they’ll leave behind the black honeydew mold afterward which can ruin your home.
- You can mist the solution all over your trees, plants, shrubs, or anywhere else you suspect them to be. They’ll be killed nearly instantly by this powerful mixture.
Here’s a video demonstrating Dawn dish soap against lanternflies in action (by vLog Cabin Life):
You can make your DIY sticky bands at home as a trap to catch Spotted Lanternflies. These sticky bands are also known as sticky tape or flypaper.
They’re easy to make at home. All you’ll need is the following:
- Pack of paper lunch bags
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- ½ cup corn syrup
How to make sticky tape:
- Add the sugar, water, and corn syrup together in a pan over the stove on low heat.
- Stir until everything dissolves.
- Take a paper lunch bag and start cutting it into long, thin strips of “tape.”
- Take each piece of tape and dip it into the mixture.
- Both sides will be coated. Remove the now sticky tape.
- Hang them on a clothesline to dry.
- After they’re dry, they’re ready to go.
How to use them:
- Apply directly to the infested trees, walls, or other surfaces as needed. They should stick directly onto your tree, you can wrap them around the bark to make “tree traps” (covered later in this guide).
- As lanternflies fly into them, they’ll get stuck on them and can’t fly away. Replace the DIY fly tape as needed.
Does vinegar kill lanternflies?
Yes, vinegar can be an effective means to kill lanternflies almost instantly.
You can use any pure white vinegar from the grocery store and pour it into a spray bottle.
Then you spray the vinegar directly onto the lanternflies to kill them. No need to dilute with water here- we’re going full power!
Be sure to clean up the dead bugs or else they’ll leave a moldy spot on your home or plants (or even car). Vinegar kills lanternflies on contact.
Homemade lanternfly spray
You can make your own homemade Spotted Lanternfly spray easily by using any of the combinations outlined in this guide. These are effective ways to get rid of lanternflies naturally.
Some effective sprays are dish soap and water, vinegar, or even rubbing alcohol. You can also use a combination of apple cider vinegar and dish soap.
The lanternfly bugs aren’t hard to kill actually- it’s just when you have swarms of them where then it really becomes a problem.
Remember, use a variety of combinations of these ingredients to see what works best for you.
There’s no real need to buy commercial sprays that have harmful chemicals that are unsafe for you and your pets and kids.
Always stick to homemade remedies when possible so you know exactly what you’re spraying outdoors. And be sure to clean up the dead lanternflies, as they’ll leave a near-permanent stain on your home or plants that’s very difficult to remove.
You can make a powerful spray that’ll kill Spotted Lanternflies on contact.
Dish soap trap
You can make your own DIY lanternfly trap by making a dish soap trap at home quite easily.
The best part about this trap is that you can just leave it sitting there for a long time without having to do anything. It’ll continue to catch and kill lanternfly bugs over time.
Here’s what you need:
- Mason jar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dish soap
How to make the trap:
- Add apple cider vinegar and dish soap and stir within the mason jar.
How to use:
- Place the jar wherever you see these flies.
You can place it on trees, hang it, or place it on the floor. Anywhere works. Make multiple jars for multiple traps.
You can use neem oil directly on the flies by spraying the stuff using a spray bottle.
Alternatively, you can also place neem oil traps around the areas where you suspect them to be present. Simply use mason jars and fill them up about ½” with neem oil.
Then place the traps around your home or within the trees. This will catch and kill lanternflies over time. Neem oil is effective against these pests.
You can spray essential oils directly onto the lanternflies. Add a few drops of peppermint oil, tea tree oil, or lavender oil to pure water.
Then spray the solution from a spray bottle directly onto the flies. This will kill them and also repel them because of the strong scent.
Be sure not to use this around somewhere you’ll be sniffing all day.
A trap tree is a tree that you’d use as a trap- exactly as the name implies. This is basically a tree that you notice the lanternflies are attracted to.
Typically, if you’re in PA, it’ll be a tree of heaven.
What you do is wrap the tree up with sticky bands to trap a whole bunch of lanternflies. Use the above solution to learn how to make the sticky bands.
You can make as many trap trees as you want. Multiple trees that are spread out seem to work better to cover more area.
The bands don’t need to cover the entire tree- just various parts around the trunk and bark.
Replace the bands as necessary. Once a fly gets trapped on it, it’ll mold the band and make it ineffective against future flies.
So replace often especially if you have a huge population of them.
The most effective trap bands are placed about 4 feet up from the ground and tightly wrapped around the tree. You can attach the band to the tree using pushpins, tape, or even staples.
You may have to smooth out the bark to allow the band to attach securely.
Don’t leave any space under the band and tree, as this will allow them to crawl under the band and bypass the trap.
You’ll see most of the Spotted Lanternflies get caught during their active season, which is around April to June.
Some states have already used this trapping technique, along with protective zones and quarantine.
Store-bought, commercial approaches
Sometimes the DIY solutions aren’t good enough, so you’ll have to resort to commercial approaches. If this is you, always try to use an organic or natural solution first before you use synthetic pesticides.
You should always try to get rid of lanternflies not using any chemicals when possible.
This is because store-bought brands are typically harmful to the environment, let alone harmful to you, your pets, and your kids!
If you’re buying a commercial poison, look for something with dinotefuran as an ingredient.
This is effective in killing butterflies, so you’ll want to have your pesticide based off of this chemical. This is an insecticide that kills spotted lanternflies.
There are plenty of commercial lanternfly traps you can buy at any hardware store.
Do your research and see which one looks promising. Try to go for natural traps, such as funnel or barrier traps where the fly will fly into the trap and get stuck.
These are less harmful to the environment and you can find many that use only natural chemicals. You can also reuse the trap with your own DIY pesticide that you make at home over and over.
Did you get rid of your lanternfly problem?
That’s about it.
By now, you should have all the knowledge you need to safely and effectively get rid of lanternflies at home- DIY style! Use a natural approach when possible.
With patience, you’ll be able to rid these pests eventually. The only exception is if they’re native to your area, which may require professional extermination.
If you have any other specific questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Or if you’ve found this guide to be of help, please let me know by leaving a comment =]! Considering telling a friend who may be having the same problem.
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.