CLEVELAND (WJW) — A beautiful but invasive pest causing concern in many parts of the U.S. has taken up residence in several areas of Cleveland. With its egg-laying season weeks away, authorities are working to stamp out the bug’s potential takeover.
Experts declared three areas of spotted lanternfly infestations in Mohican Park on Triskett Road, Paramelt on Elmwood Avenue and St. Joseph Cemetery on Detroit Road, according to Tom deHaas, Erie County Agriculture Natural Resource Educator.
Cleveland Urban Forestry, Cleveland Division of Park Maintenance, Cleveland Metroparks and a team from the Ohio State University on Aug. 11 met with Cleveland park maintenance employees to teach them how to identify the bug in each stage of life and its favored host plants.
Why are spotted lanternflies concerning?
The insects feed on the trunk and branches of woody plants, causing them to wilt and die. They also secrete substances that can build up under plants and promote growth of black, sooty mold.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture warns that spotted lanternflies are fond of grapevines, fruit trees and hops, making them a great concern for the grape and wine industry. They’re also fond of oak, pine, poplar and walnut.
Why do infestations grow so fast?
DeHaas, who is a team member of OSU’s Extension program, says it’s important to bring attention to the problem by educating the public on how to spot the bug and its eggs, which are due any time from mid-September through the first frost when the adults die.
He says infestations can grow quickly due to the egg masses’ ability to lie dormant for months through a cold winter and the adult bugs not having many predators in the area.
Where do they hang out?
The sticky sap and rough bark of the Tree of Heaven make it an SLF favorite with grapevines coming in second place, deHaas explained.
He says females are seen with a large yellow abdomen when it’s almost time to lay her eggs.
Where have they been spotted?
Cleveland isn’t the only area in Ohio seeing the invasion of the new inhabitants. Mahoning, Jefferson and Lorain counties are dealing with the same issue.
Some states, like Pennsylvania where the bug was first detected in the U.S. in 2014, have decreed quarantines, which prohibit moving the bug at any life stage and regulates moving items the insect may live on like firewood or vehicles.
With the problem also in New York, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing to increase federal support for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service program by over $22 million in 2023 to mitigate invasive species, like the SLF.
What should I do if I see a spotted lanternfly or an egg mass?
The Ohio Department of Agriculture urges anyone who finds an egg mass to remove it by scraping it with a hard or rigid tool and putting it into a container of rubbing alcohol.
If you suspect a SLF infestation, at any life stage, take a picture or collect a sample and report it to the ODA Plant Pest Control here or call 614-728-6400.
Check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pest Tracker, for more on which bugs are under a federal quarantine in Ohio and for information on how to avoid inadvertently making a suitable home for the invasive bug.