How to install sticky bands to trap the spotted lanternfly

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Spotted lanternfly sticky band traps
Sticky bands trap spotted lanternflies as they crawl up tree trunks in search of food. Photo credit: Penn State Extension in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Since being discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly has proven its ability to spread. This invasive pest has been found in 14 southeastern Pennsylvania counties, as well as, areas in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

There’s no way to prevent spotted lantern flies from entering your property or to eliminate them completely once they’ve moved in. However, sticky bands wrapped around tree trunks have been an effective management tool. Learn how to obtain and install sticky bands to manage spotted lanternfly populations on your property, while avoiding bycatch — accidentally trapping other animals.

Getting sticky bands

Sticky bands can be purchased or you can make your own. If you decide to purchase commercially available sticky bands, you can do so online or at your local garden center or hardware store. If you’re planning to make your own there are a few methods you might try:

Duct tape. Your mom might swear it fixes everything, but it doesn’t make the best sticky band. You can wrap it around tree trunks backward and secure it with pushpins; however, it loses its stickiness quickly, especially if it rains.

Sticky substances. The better option for homemade traps is to wrap your tree in thin plastic or water-resistant paper, secure it with pushpins or staples and spread a sticky substance on top of it. You might try products made of gum resins, like petroleum jelly. Just be cautious not to get it on the bark of the tree because petroleum jelly can discolor it. You might also use commercially available tree banding glue.

Installing sticky bands

You should only install sticky bands on trees that you see spotted lanternflies feeding on or climbing up. They are not effective to use on bushed or vines because they don’t have a large enough diameter for the banding tape. To install your sticky bands, follow these instructions:

  1. Place sticky band about four feet from the ground and wrap it tightly against the bark of the tree.
  2. Look for and eliminate any gaps at the bottom of the sticky band to prevent spotted lanternflies from climbing up your tree underneath the band.
  3. Secure the tightly wrapped sticky band with staples or pushpins.

Tips

  • Bands should be installed on infested trees when spotted lanternfly eggs hatch from late April through June for the greatest success rate. During this time, spotted lanternflies are in their nymph stage and must crawl on tree trunks to get to food sources. Adults are less likely to be captured using sticky bands.
  • Sticky bands on trees with deeply grooved bark may not be as effective as bands on trees with smooth bark.

How to avoid bycatch

In using sticky bands to catch spotted lanternflies, you run the risk of trapping other animals, including beneficial insects, small mammals, small birds and lizards. However, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of trapping these animals. Use the tips below:

Reduce the width of the sticky band. By reducing the width of your sticky bands, you’re reducing the surface area that other animals could potentially encounter. You can make skinnier homemade bands and cut commercial sticky bands in halves or thirds. Spotted lanternflies get stuck on the bands from the bottom up, so skinnier bands are just as effective as wider ones.

Put guards over sticky bands. You can build guards for your sticky bands out of wire fencing or mesh to prevent larger animals from coming into contact with the band’s surface. You can find a how-to video on building a guard on Penn State Extension’s website.

Spotted lanternfly sticky bands
In picture A, on the left, the width of the sticky band has been reduced to decrease the surface area that could potentially trap other animals. In picture B, on the right, a guard has been installed around the sticky band to prevent larger animals from accidentally coming into contact with the sticky surface. Photo credit: Penn State Extension in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Use petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is not known to catch mammals, so you can avoid trapping them by using it as the sticky substance on your tree bands.

Use a band with a protected sticky surface. According to Penn State Extension, there is a commercially available band that uses a white fiber material to hold the inward-facing sticky side of the band away from the trunk of the tree, creating a protected sticky surface. This reduces the potential of catching animals other than the spotted lanternfly.

Checking your sticky bands

You should check your sticky bands at least once a week to make sure there’s enough exposed sticky surface to continue catching spotted lanternflies and to make sure you didn’t accidentally trap any other animals in the process.

If an unintended animal gets trapped in your sticky band, don’t try to free it by yourself. If you want to save the animal follow these steps:

  1. Cover any exposed sticky material with plastic wrap or paper, so the trapped animal doesn’t get even more stuck in the trap.
  2. Remove the band from the tree as carefully as possible.
  3. Take the animal to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

You can find a center near you at the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators website.

Stay up-to-date on spotted lanternfly control methods

Ongoing research is being done to improve spotted lanternfly management techniques and to discover new control methods. You can stay up to date by visiting the Penn State extension Spotted Lanternfly webpage or by contacting your county extension office.

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