Learn The Truth About Spotted Lantern Flies - Tomlinson Bomberger

The Truth about Spotted Lantern Flies: More Nuisance than Destruction

Category: Tree Care, Tree & Shrub

The Truth about Spotted Lantern Flies: More Nuisance than Destruction

Recent research conducted by Penn State has shed new light on the impact of spotted lanternflies on hardwood trees. Contrary to previous beliefs, these insects may not be as destructive as once thought. However, while they may not significantly threaten tree health, they remain a nuisance. This blog delves into the study’s details and explores why spotted lanternflies can be bothersome.


Spotted Lanternfly.

The Study: A Shift in Perspective.

According to the research led by Penn State, hardwood trees like maple, willow, and birch may be less vulnerable to spotted lanternflies than initially assumed [1]. This finding challenges the notion that these insects cause extensive damage to trees. While they feed on sap, the study suggests that the impact on tree health may be less severe than previously believed.

Not a Significant Threat to Tree Health:

The study further reveals that spotted lanternflies are more of a nuisance than a true menace to tree health [3]. Although they extract sap, it is not a direct cause for concern. While some sap loss can occur, it is unlikely to result in the decline or death of the trees. Therefore, there is no need to panic about the long-term survival of hardwood trees due to spotted lanternfly infestations. While there is not a significant need to be on a full Spotted Lanternfly reduction program, an early-season systemic insecticide treatment will help control the SLF population as well as help prevent other insects. Also, a systemic fungicide application with phosphite will boost the tree’s immune system, and a fertilization application will promote overall tree health.


Nuisance Factors to Consider:

While spotted lanternflies may not destroy trees, they still bring numerous nuisances that warrant attention. Here are a few reasons why they can be bothersome:

a) Sticky Secretions: Spotted lanternflies excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can coat trees, plants, and outdoor surfaces. This secretion promotes the growth of black sooty mold, creating an unsightly mess in gardens and outdoor spaces.


b) Swarming Behavior: These insects are known to congregate in large numbers, forming swarms that can be overwhelming. Their presence can be unsettling and hinder outdoor activities like picnics or gardening.


c) Agricultural Impact: While the study primarily focuses on hardwood trees, it is important to note that spotted lanternflies can still threaten crops. They feed on various plants, including grapes, hops, and fruit trees, potentially impacting crop yields.

Spotted Lanternfly.

Why Hire a Certified Arborist

Tomlinson Bomberger’s arborists are dedicated to maintaining and improving the health and safety of trees and shrubs. They offer comprehensive care and services, including tree spraying, fertilization, and pruning. They aim to preserve and protect your investment in landscape trees and shrubs.


We recommend replacing the existing Spotted Lantern Fly services with the program outlined below. This program focuses on tree health with some Spotted Lanternfly protection.


  1. Trunk Bark Spray (June) – application sprayed onto the trunk of the tree to protect from feeding insects
  2. Fertilization & Potassium (July/Aug) – aids in tolerance to insects, disease, and environmental pressures. Boosts tree’s immune system
  3. Fall Fertilization (Sept/Oct) – promotes root growth and supplies micronutrients and nitrogen. Helps store nutrients for dormant periods.


If you want to invest in this program to help your trees thrive or learn more about the benefits, please call us at 717-399-1991.


The recent study from Penn State has provided valuable insights into the true nature of spotted lanternflies. While they may not be as destructive to hardwood trees as previously believed, their presence can still be a nuisance. Understanding the implications of their swarming behavior, sticky secretions, and potential impact on crops is crucial. By raising awareness about these nuisances, we can better manage and mitigate the inconveniences caused by spotted lanternflies while preserving our natural ecosystems.



[1] New long-term research led by Penn State has revealed that hardwood trees, such as maple, willow and birch, may be less vulnerable to spotted …

[2] Smashing lanternflies and smashing myths: Study finds they may not be as harmful as once thought

[3] Spotted lanternfly isn’t as destructive as previously thought, according to a recent Penn State study.