Most pesticides will kill them, and they are easy to catch and shatter. They also die easily when the heat or frost arrives. The most aggressive and effective way to stop their spread is to remove one of their favorite food sources: the tree of heaven, which is also an invasive plant, said Professor Urban.
The best defense of the lantern flies lies in their ability to reproduce. They breed in large numbers and lay 30 to 50 eggs at a time. Their eggs, which can be laid virtually anywhere, including trees, trucks, and railroad cars, take eight months to hatch, Professor Urban said.
“That gives them time to be transported across the people’s journey,” she said.
Despite its name, the lantern fly is a plan hopper, not a fly. It first appeared in the United States in September 2014, most likely from China, Professor Urban said.
The insects were spotted on imported stone at a landscaping center in Berks County, Pennsylvania, she added.
Since then, lantern flies have spread across the northeastern United States. In Delaware, the state Department of Agriculture is monitoring five satellite populations and trying to eradicate them, said Stacey Hofmann, an agency spokeswoman. There are repeated reports of sightings from two counties, and the state fears that a third could be infected.
“People may not notice that the insect has fallen into the back of their truck, jumped into their car, or is in a mobile home or boat,” said Ms. Hofmann.
In New Jersey, eight counties have been designated as “quarantine zones,” which in part means residents should check their vehicles before they travel. In Pennsylvania, where 18,000 reported lantern fly sightings were reported, 34 counties have similar restrictions.