Spotted Lanternflies Laying Egg Masses In MD: What You Can Do

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This story was originally posted on Maryland Regional Patch, courtesy of Deb Belt. Photo credit: Getty Images

MARYLAND — They have survived the heat and rains of summer, along with traps some residents have laid for the pests, and now they're laying eggs in parts of Maryland.

The spotted lanternfly's egg masses will be laid from September through December, a timeframe that gives Marylanders a chance to make perhaps the greatest impact in fighting back against the bug.

While the adult spotted lanternfly doesn't survive the winter, the egg masses do before hatching in the spring. They're visible from now through June.

Invasive spotted lanternflies, first discovered eight years ago in Pennsylvania and confirmed in Maryland, can devastate maple and walnut trees, along with grapes, hops, and other crops. Their favorite plants to feed on are trees of heaven.

The egg masses are about 1 inch in size and contain 30-50 eggs. Eighty to 90 percent of egg masses on trees are found 10 feet above the ground or higher, officials say.

In Maryland, spotted lanternflies have been reported since 2018 in Cecil County. The pest has spread to Harford County, and smaller populations have also been found in Baltimore City, and Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne, Wicomico, and Washington counties.

A quarantine order first issued by the secretary of agriculture three years ago for Harford and Cecil counties is still in effect but has been expanded this year to also include: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, and Washington counties, as well as Baltimore City, Maryland Department of Agriculture officials said.

Egg masses are easy to identify and should be scraped off. Use a putty knife, credit card, or other firm, blunt-edged tool to scrape. A helpful tutorial on this process is here, courtesy of Penn State Extension.

Spotted lanternflies often lay their eggs on flat surfaces, such as tree bark, rocks, lawn furniture, firewood, boats, RVs, pallets, or anything left outdoors, which can be transported to new locations.

Freshly laid egg masses have a light-gray, mud-like covering, while older egg masses change in color to a light tan, resembling cracked mud. Hatched egg masses lose the mud-like covering, exposing individual eggs that look similar to seeds.

The Maryland quarantine restricts moving materials that might contain the spotted lanternfly in any of its life stages, including egg masses, nymphs, and adults. Residents are asked to check backpacks, bicycles, trash cans, lumber, and other material before moving them.

To report a sighting of a spotted lanternfly or any egg masses, contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture at (410) 841-5920 or DontBug.MD@maryland.gov.

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