(WHTM) – It’s spotted lanternfly season and the invasive species is a huge threat to plants.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, spotted lanternflies cause trees, vines, crops and some other types of plants to ooze sap, wilt, have leaf curling and dieback. When the creatures feed, they secrete honeydew, which causes black sooty mold to grow. This mold is very dangerous to plants.
For farmers, the spotted lanternfly effects grapes, apples and hops, which can result in a huge economic loss.
For people who are worried about how spotted lanternflies will affect their garden, it is important to remember not to spray for the bugs. The spray kills not only spotted lanternflies, but also the endangered pollinator the Monarch butterfly. The spray does more harm for plants than good.
The City of Bordentown, New Jesey suggests using a solution that is equal in parts of Dawn dish soap and water to spray on plants or directly on the bugs when you see them. It drowns the bugs and destroys eggs as well.
Another way to use Dawn dish soap is to mix it in an open jar with apple cider vinegar. Placing this solution in the garden near your plants will create a trap for the bugs. Using multiple jars of the mixture will increase the effectiveness.
It is important to note that apple cider vinegar should not be sprayed directly on plants unless it is extremely diluted. The acidic nature of apple cider will cause plants to wilt and curl and upset the pH balance of your soil.
Neem oil is another option to deter spotted lanternflies. When sprayed directly with this solution, lanternflies will die. The best news is that neem oil is non-toxic to birds, bees, other animals and plants.
Essential oils will also kill and repel the lanternflies. A water spray with a couple drops of tea tree oil, peppermint oil or lavender oil will help keep them away.
Take preventative action now with the jar traps to protect your plants and have the safe spray ready to go if you start to notice more lanternfly activity. Whatever you do, do not use traditional lanternfly spray solutions on your plants. This will harm pollinators and in turn cause more harm to your garden in the long run.