Guarding Your Greenery: Tips on How to Kill Spotted Lantern Flies Naturally


Aug. 23 2023, Updated 4:14 p.m. ET

While Nevada residents are battling to control an infestation of Mormon crickets, insects of a different kind are swarming around Western Pennsylvania: spotted lanternflies. They aren’t dangerous to humans or animals, but the invasive insects can wreak havoc on crops like apples, grapes, and berries.

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The USDA recommends that if you see a spotted lanternfly, you should take a picture of it, note its location, and then kill it. Let’s look at one TikTok creator’s tip on how to kill spotted lantern flies, as well as other methods that may be useful.

A spotted lanternfly on a tree.
Source: Getty Images
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Viral TikTok hack shows how to kill spotted lanternflies.

TikTok creator @greenleafa shared a video on August 22, 2023, of how she killed numerous lanternflies with just an empty water bottle. At the beginning of the video, she shows a clear plastic water bottle almost half full of dead lanternflies. She said she collected the pile of bugs within an hour.

To show how she caught the bugs, she took an empty water bottle up to a tree where many lanternflies like to hang out. As she holds the mouth of the water bottle up to a lanternfly on the tree, the bug pops into the water bottle. It looks like the water bottle is sucking the bugs off the tree like a vacuum cleaner.

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“You hold the water bottle horizontal to them, and they bounce right inside of it. They jump backwards,” she said. One by one, she “sucks” lanternflies off the tree and into the water bottle.

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For lanternflies on the ground, you need to step on them from the front because “their eyes are looking backwards,” she said. That way, you can crush the insect before it gets a chance to jump away from the threat.

There are also several other methods to killing spotted lanternflies.

Spotted lanternflies are native to China, and the invasive insect first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014, according to the USDA. On the surface, they seem harmless. They don’t bite, and they are more of a nuisance. The adult insects are pretty and look like a butterfly or moth when their wings are extended.

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However, lanternflies can cause serious damage to trees, vines, and other plants, per the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. They may also contribute to black mold growth from the sugary substance they excrete, known as honeydew.

Using insecticide or other chemicals to kill lanternflies is bad for the environment and may also be prohibited depending on where you live or what type of plant or tree you intend to use it on.

Three spotted lanternflies on a tree.
Source: Getty Images
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Government officials with the city of Borderntown, New Jersey, suggest using homemade sprays with vinegar, Dawn dish soap, essential oils, or neem oil to kill the bugs.

Another way to kill the lanternflies is to destroy their eggs before they can hatch. In an interview with Good Housekeeping, David Coyle, assistant professor of forest health and invasive species at Clemson University, said you can kill lanternflies by scraping their egg masses into a plastic bag or bottle containing rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.

According to Lancaster Online, there is one primary reason some people might have sympathy for the spotted lanternfly: the honeydew they excrete is the perfect food for bees, which most nature lovers know are enormously important to the environment and the ecosystem.

However, regardless of your feelings about spotted lanternflies, now you're armed with plenty of eco-friendly options to eliminate them.

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