HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)– All summer long, we’ve been asking around the newsroom, where are the spotted lanternflies?
This time in 2022, we couldn’t walk ten feet without running into a dozen of them, but now it seems like they have vanished.
“Terrible. everywhere you looked, the things were,” mail carrier Patrick Hoon said.
Like everyone who works outside, Hoon is kind of an accidental spotted lanternfly expert.
“Everywhere. Everywhere. you couldn’t miss ’em. Steppin’ on ’em, flying all around, landing on you,” Hoon said.
That was last year. But now? We’ll ask an actual spotted lanternfly expert.
“I live in this area. I haven’t seen any adult lanternflies,” Department of Agriculture Spokesperson Shannon Powers said.
Powers of the Department of Agriculture was speaking to us next to this same plant where her colleague Jay Losiewicz spoke with us last year.
“They’re, unfortunately, just about everywhere now. Including here on our plants,” Losiewicz said in 2022.
Baby lanternfly nymphs at that point in June 2022.
“We’ll lift up for you so you can see there’s two right there just hanging out, getting a meal,” Losiewicz said.
By August of 2022, adults like these. But this year? Here’s that same plant. Nothing. Which is a good thing.
As a review not that you need one if you’ve lived here more than a year – lanternflies don’t live long.
“But they make a mess in the meantime, and they do particularly weaken younger plants,” Powers said.
So their relative absence this year is a welcome surprise.
“For the folks who are in the field, you know, there there are surprises all the time. That’s why we do research,” Powers said.
One result of that research?
“You have a product now that’s labeled as effective for controlling lanternflies,” Powers said.
And one theory about why most of us aren’t seeing many this year?
“What we’re understanding from the people in the field is that the third year that lanternflies are in an infested area. It tends to be the peak and last year would have been Harrisburg’s third year,” Powers said.
Sure enough. There was someone up in Westchester County, New York, just last week vacuuming lanternflies off trees there where their numbers are rising.
But here for now, at least? Well back to accidental spotted lanternfly expert Patrick Hoon.
“I thought they were here to stay, but I’m glad they’re not around anymore,” Hoon said.