Officials concerned for birds, small mammals getting trapped in spotted lanternfly tape


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The U.S. and Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture are continuing efforts to eradicate spotted lanternflies, including the use of sticky bands to trap the invasive insects as they hatch.

“Unfortunately, those sticky bands do sometimes catch small mammals and small birds, but there are things you can do to prevent that,” said Shannon Powers, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

“The only thing that we have found that seems to help is to put a cage of hardware cloth or chicken wire around the tape so that the flies can get in but the birds cannot,” said Peggy Hentz, founder and director of Red Creek Wildlife Center.

Hentz says last year, they found almost 50 birds stuck on lanternfly tape.

“Most of the birds that come in on the traps end up dying, probably because they’re trapped out in the open and the stress factor is just too much,” Hentz said.

If a bird does get caught, Hentz recommends cutting the tape around the bird and placing it in a cardboard box.

“Take facial tissues and put it on the glue around the birds, close the box so that the birds are in complete darkness,” Hentz said, recommending people then transport the bird as soon as they can to a wildlife center. 

She doesn’t recommend removing them yourself.

“They can’t be released right after that because then they need to be de-oiled, and they’re going to need at least several days of rehabilitation,” Hentz said.

“This time of year, the sticky bands are not that effective because the adults don’t just walk up trees,” Powers said. “They disperse everywhere.”

Powers says this time of year, people should be focused on lanternfly eggs that might look like a smear of mud or putty on trees, rocks, and lawn furniture.

“Scrape their egg masses that they’re laying and smush them. Make sure that there are no eggs left in them that are viable,” Powers said. “That kills 30 to 50 insects that might hatch out next spring.”

Powers suggests taking down your sticky tape as winter approaches, when spotted lanternflies die out.

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