I'm not sure I've seen much about these guys in the news lately. Even here in our own newsroom, there hasn't been much to share lately when it comes to this one particular invasive pest.

Or maybe that's because everyone throughout the Garden State is focused on the incoming Joro Spider. And that would make sense since it's still unknown what kind of damage that particular insect will cause once it gets here.

I guess invasive bugs are something we should just be getting used to as part of our daily lives. Learning and adapting is something we, unfortunately, have to do.

With that said, let's get into the unwanted visitor I had in my yard. One that, up until recently, was never a problem I had to deal with.

Crape Myrtle tree with white flowers

Type of trees

In my yard, I have two Crape Myrtle trees. The one in the backyard is fairly large and has white flowers. The one in my front yard is smaller and has fusha pink blooms. Both trees have flaky bark.

You won't find the flowers on them in mid-June, however. These particular trees don't actually bloom until later in the season.

Up until this year, these trees have only had bees, birds, and butterflies among their branches. That, however, had changed this year. And it's something I'm still wondering if I need to be concerned about.

Spotted Lanternfly on a Crape Myrtle tree leaf
Mike Brant TSM (Canva edit)

That annoying pest is back

Do you recognize that little insect on the leaf? It's not a spotted spider, which is what I thought at first.

It's actually a spotted lanternfly. And I was surprised by this since I really haven't seen them this year, nor have I seen them much last year.

And in my yard, I haven't seen them in large numbers. Maybe one or two at most, but that was about it. Which is why I thought it was odd to find them all over the branches of my Crape Myrtle trees.

Spotted Lanternfly on a Crape Myrtle tree leaf
Mike Brant TSM (Canva edit)

Swarms of them

And when I say all over, I mean, ALL OVER. Just take a look at the photo above.

Picture that, but on every single branch. It's something I've never seen before on a Crape Myrtle tree. After I discovered this I immediately went to inspect everything else in my yard.

I looked throughout the vegetable garden, the maple trees, the cherry tree, dogwood, and every ounce of vegetation in my front and back yards.

Unfortunately, there was one other spot that had swarms. It was my other Crape Myrtle tree.

Spotted Lanternfly on a Crape Myrtle tree leaf
Mike Brant TSM (Canva Edit)

Why the Crape Myrtle?

Again, it was hard to find a branch that didn't have them. And I still can't help but think why? Why the Crape Myrtle trees?

Nowhere else did I see them... just those two trees. The other trees, shrubs, and plants in the vegetable garden were completely clear of the pests.

I'm all about natural remedies so I'm going to research what would be the best thing to spray on the trees to get rid of them. I know the Tree of Heaven is the preferred tree of choice for Spotted Lantenflies. But I now know that they may also cause some harm to Crape Myrtles.

Nymphal instars of spotted lanternfly (New Jersey Department of Agriculture)
Nymphal instars of spotted lanternfly (New Jersey Department of Agriculture)

A little breathing room

The good news is that Spotted Lanternflies aren't known for killing this particular type of tree. They can, however, affect flower production.

That means the swarm on my trees might reduce the amount of flowers that bloom later in the season, which will make the trees less appealing. Furthermore, when the spotted lanternflies feed on the trees, it may cause a honeydew-like appearance to the bark.

Crape Myrtles are a very common tree grown in many yards throughout the Garden State, so I thought this was important to share with all New Jersey homeowners. If you have a Crape Myrtle in your yard, I encourage you to inspect it now.

Crape Myrtle Tree
Mike Brant TSM

Another chosen tree

Again, I learned something new as I never knew these annoying little pests also went after Crape Myrtle Trees. I know the Tree of Heaven is the most common target, but I also know that's more about the eggs (more on that below).

All I can say is as of mid-June, the Spotted Lanternfly is alive and well, and in large numbers, here in the Garden State. So to all New Jersey homeowners, keep your eyes open and inspect your yards.

What to know about the spotted lanternfly and the tree of heaven in New Jersey

This is especially important now since the Spotted Lanternfly appears to be spreading to more parts of New Jersey. The tree of heaven is a very likely place to find those egg masses come fall.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

8 ways to battle the spotted lanternfly in NJ

Gallery Credit: Kylie Moore

The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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