Delaware Department of

Spotted Lanternfly Management

Quarantine & Permitting
Reporting Spotted Lanternfly
Managing Spotted Lanternfly

When managing the spotted lanternfly, you need to focus on two areas – vegetation management and destroying any life stage of the spotted lanternfly.

Tree of Heaven

The tree of heaven is an important food source, and eliminating this invasive helps decrease the spotted lanternfly population. This is a tree often seen in industrial parks, along highways and railways, and in unmanaged areas or vacant lots. Municipalities and businesses should prioritize destroying the female tree of heaven while leaving some male specimens as trap trees. If identified, homeowners should remove the tree of heaven from their property.

Proper identification of the tree of heaven is important in helping to eradicate this invasive pest. Although the tree of heaven is an invasive plant, several native trees (sumac, black walnut) are similar-looking. It’s important to distinguish these from the tree of heaven so that these look-alikes are not removed. Tree of heaven is a very hardy tree species that can be found growing almost anywhere because of its tolerance of poor soils. The species can grow to 82 feet and is usually found in clusters.

  • Leaves: Compound leaves with compound leaflets. Leaves and twigs have a strong “nutty” odor when crushed or cut.
  • Bark: Gray bark with vertical lines. As the tree gets older, the bark becomes darker.
  • Fruit: Females have winged seed pods that hang on the tree through the winter.


Managing Tree of Heaven

If you have found a tree of heaven on your property, it is time to make a plan!

1. Identify which trees are female.
These trees will have winged seedpods. Remove female trees from your property to eliminate them as a potential food source for spotted lanternfly.

2. Create “trap trees.”
Trap trees are a male tree of heaven that does not have seeds. Leave 10% of the largest male trees standing and treat them with a registered systemic insecticide to target spotted lanternflies that land and feed on them. This chemical should be applied yearly in the springtime.

3.Time to cut and treat.
Now that you have your trap trees picked out, it’s time to remove the remaining tree of heaven. The tree of heaven is notorious for growing back with a vengeance if it’s only cut down. The roots have been known to reach out 26 feet and send up offshoots if the parent tree is cut down. To ensure that the tree is killed, you will need to treat it with a herbicide. Failure to apply herbicide, and in some cases multiple treatments, will result in new growth from the stump or roots.

When using herbicides and insecticides, remember to read the product label and be mindful of all label restrictions!


Managing Spotted Lanternfly

If you have spotted lanternfly on your property, it’s important to remove all life stages of this invasive pest. One pregnant female spotted lanternfly can lay upwards of 200 eggs before the season ends, resulting in new populations in other areas and exponential growth on your own property.

Fall and Winter (September – April)

  • Search for egg masses on trees, shrubs, and other ornamentals. Utilize the Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Compliance Checklist to find egg masses on other regulated items found outdoors.
  • If you find an egg mass, use a stiff card (similar to a credit card) or a putty knife to scrape the egg mass into a Ziploc bag or other container.  To ensure the eggs are killed, add rubbing alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Seal the bag or container and discard it.
  • Remember that some egg masses will be unreachable in the tops branches of trees, but every egg mass you destroy does make a difference.

From Spring-Fall, we rely on the physical control and the chemical control of spotted lanternfly. The insect’s stage and the phase that the tree is in dictates what type of control we use.

Spring and Summer (Late March-early September)

  • As the egg masses hatch, nymphs will walk up the tree to feed on more tender shoots. Use sticky bands or circle traps to catch the nymphs walking up the trunk of the tree of heaven or any other trees where spotted lanternfly has a large presence.
  • When the eggs hatch, the first three instars will be black with white spots. As the spotted lanternfly reaches the 4th instar (before it reaches adulthood), we see red blotches added to the black body and white spots.
  • Delaware has traditionally seen the fourth instars metamorphize into adult spotted lanternfly around the last two weeks of July.
  • From July through early September, trees are actively moving phloem from the trunk up into the branches, which feed the tree’s growth. At this time, using a systemic insecticide is preferred because it is absorbed by tree roots, bark, or leaves and is moved through its vascular system to other parts of the tree. This means that no matter what area the spotted lanternfly feeds on, it will ingest the insecticide and die.
  • Homeowners can apply systemic insecticides, including bark sprays and soil sprays. A licensed ornamental and turf pesticide applicator can apply tree injections.
  • Apply contact insecticides labeled for use on planthoppers or leafhoppers directly to the insect.

Late Summer and Fall (early September – November)

  • Depending on the phase trees are moving into, systemic insecticides uptake slows down as the tree prepares for dormancy during late fall and winter. Therefore, using a systemic insecticide is not effective. Homeowners should focus on setting up sticky bands and circle traps and using contact insecticides on adult spotted lanternfly.

The Delaware Homeowner Spotted Lanternfly and Treatment Fact Sheet found below has examples of available insecticide products containing the most effective ingredients studied (dinotefuran, imidacloprid, carbaryl, and bifenthrin. Be sure to follow label directions. Mention of a product name does not constitute a specific endorsement by the Delaware Department of Agriculture or the University of Delaware.

Delaware Spotted Lanternfly Resources

Emergency Regulations for Spotted Lanternfly

Delaware Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Locator

What Does the Delaware Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Mean?

Delaware Homeowner Spotted Lanternfly and Treatment Fact Sheet

Delaware Resident Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Compliance Checklist

Delaware Business Spotted Lanternfly Permit Registration and Testing

Search for a Commercially Licensed Turf and Ornamental Pesticide Applicator:
Click on Find a Licensed Business, then select search by Business License Category. Select Ornamental and Turf Pest Control in the drop-down box and click Search.

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