Die, Spotted Lanternflies!! Die!!

July 25, 2020

Well, it figured. Our family has (so far, please Lord) been spared COVID-19, and we haven’t seen any murder hornets yet; therefore we were due for another kind of plague on our house/property. And here it is: our trees are currently infested with spotted lanternflies. For the unfamiliar, these are hideous insects that rather recently came to the United States. These most unwelcome visitors prey on several types of tree (including our black walnut). After feeding on the sap, they excrete a nasty sticky substance, that leads to mold growth. Eventually the mighty oak (or whatever) is killed. The lanternflies may be a new addition to the Critters of Southeastern PA, but once they arrived they were EVERYWHERE. And the thing is, they aren’t ugly, like tarantulas or scorpions. If you didn’t know better you’d think they were rather pretty and certainly harmless. Never judge a planthopper by its hindwings, I always say!

How to get rid of these pests? Short of using a powerful insecticide, neighborhood folks are putting bands of sticky tape around the trunks of their trees. The flies get stuck to the tape—in theory, problem solved. In reality, though, while our tape is loaded with the loathsome spotted l’s, there are plenty more who escape—and I’ve heard horror stories of butterflies and even small birds who have gotten stuck. Yuck!

I checked out the Penn State Extension website, and learned that we are in a race against time. In just a few weeks, the flies will begin laying their thousands and thousands of eggs. We have to act now, or our yard will be filled with baby lanternflies—and chewed and dying trees. I have never before felt a shred of emotion regarding flora and fauna, but I’m really bothered by this shameless assault on our landscape.

Ya-Jhu the farmer’s daughter is quite concerned; she is our #1 Tree Inspector and Tape Dispenser. Aiden and Peter understand that these are NOT like Very Hungry Caterpillars, that these bugs are pure evil. Aiden is on an eradication quest—he even has a special stick he uses to squash the ones who land on the deck or patio furniture, our brave six year old doing battle against the Arch Villains. We all cheer his kills, and I wonder if we feel extreme glee at the sight of dead insects because as yet coronavirus has no cure. By swatting and stomping on spotted lanternflies with abandon, perhaps we are releasing pent up anger at our current, rather helpless, situation. If we can’t kill THAT kind of bug right now, at least we’re doing our part to wipe out another.

So here we are, a house full of Loraxes, trying desperately to Save the Trees. And I, Mild Mannered Mom turned Cold Blooded Killer, will not rest until every last nasty bark eater is slaughtered. “Die, Spotted Lanternflies!” I scream, shaking my fist at a disgusting branch full, “Die!!”

It’s a whole new Elise. You better watch out


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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