This year, you can make a difference!
Our focus for 2022 is endangered species, and the role each of us plays as protector of all in God’s creation. One way that species native to a certain area become endangered is through the introduction of invasive species. An example is the recent influx of the spotted lanternfly, which has been introduced to our region through the far-flung transportation and commerce that is now a part of our modern world.
The spotted lanternfly endangers several native tree species in New Jersey, such as pine, nut, ash, willow, maple, and oak. It also is a threat to important agricultural crops upon which our local farmers rely, such as nut and fruit trees and grapevines. While we acknowledge the scaredness of all creation, there are important steps each of us can take to help control the spotted lanternfly population as we move into the spring months when they will begin to re-emerge:
Find and destroy egg casings in early spring, before the lanternflies begin to hatch. A photo of a spotted lanternfly egg casing is shown in the below photo. You will find them not only on trees, but anywhere they can attach, for example: wooden decks and patios; sides of buildings; piles of lumber; even inside the wheel wells of motor vehicles! To remove and destroy them, use a credit card or other flat object to scrape them into a (re-used) plastic bag.
Recognize the various life cycle stages of spotted lanternflies. We have all likely now seen images of mature lanternflies, with their bright red wing coloring. However, lanternflies go through several nymph stag- es before they develop these red markings, and before they develop the ability to fly or hop large distances (making them easier to crush). Look for small black or red insects with white spots and long legs (Photo, center). You can see a full life cycle here.
Remove any “tree of heaven” on your property. These trees, while visually appealing, are themselves an invasive species in New Jersey, and the main food source for lanternflies. Identifying and removing these trees (below) is a simple yet powerful way to impact the lanternfly’s ability to survive and reproduce. One watchout: the leaves of the Tree of Heaven resemble those of sumac and black walnut, native species in our area; however, their barks are quite different. Be sure to double check you are cutting down the right tree! Check out this resource for help.
DO NOT use insecticides! Although many landscapers market insecticides for use against spotted lanternflies, these methods are largely ineffective given the high prevalence of lanternflies that are now in our area. Even worse, these insecticides are harmful to other critically endangered native species such as bees. Insecticides are a waste of your money, and do more harm than good!
DO NOT wrap your trees in sticky tape! Like insecticides, this method has limited effectiveness as it only works until lanternflies are able to fly, and also can be incredibly damaging to other species like native birds that become trapped in the glue. If you do happen to find a bird trapped in glue tape, DO NOT try to remove the bird yourself. Instead, cut out the entire segment of tape that includes the bird and take to an animal hospital, such as Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, to attempt a rescue.
Shop locally! One important way we can help prevent the introduction of invasive species is by decreasing our reliance on global commerce. Added benefits are higher quality goods, supporting our local economy, and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels!
Each of us can help protect our native species for future generations. To learn more about the spotted lanternfly and steps you can take, visit the NJ Department of Agriculture website.
To purchase native plants locally without relying on nurseries that import inventory from greater distances, look for pop-up spring and fall native plant sales such as the one conducted each year by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
Like what you’re seeing from the Green Team? Interested in contributing your time and talents? We are always eager to welcome new helping hands into our Ministry! Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org