STATEN ISLAND, NY — As the population of spotted lanternflies continues to grow in the Northeast, some people are taking matters into their own hands to ensnare them — using duct tape around trees.
The invasive insects were first discovered in New York State, on Staten Island, in 2020, and are native to China and Southeast Asia. The invasive plant hopper is known for being hard to spot, harder to kill and bad for the environment.
The species are often found moving up and down tree trunks, according to the Penn State Extension. The moving insects can be caught on the sticky surfaces of tires placed around trees, which can effectively destroy many spotted lanternflies without using insecticides.
The straps are usually placed about four feet from the bottom of a tree and tied to the trunk. And the stickiness of the tape you use can determine how effectively you can catch different life stages of the spotted lanternfly.
Many people in contaminated areas have used the bands successfully, including on Staten Island.
But the Penn State Extension warns people to be careful when using the scotch tape — it could trap other creatures.
Other insects, some of them useful, have been caught on the tape. And every now and then a bird, small mammal like a squirrel or other animals are caught.
Heather Leach, spotted lanternfly extension worker at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, warned that there are several important things to consider when installing a masking tape, such as avoiding catching the unintended, non-target creatures.
There are several practices homeowners can use to reduce the risk of catching the non-targets, especially the larger creatures. One way is to decrease the width of the sticky bands, which would reduce the surface area encountered by a non-target animal. This would mean cutting commercially available tires in half or in three, she said.
“Because spotted lanternflies are caught on the tires from bottom to top, this method (cutting sticky tapes in half or in three) can catch the same number of insects and will make your stock of tape material last longer,” Leach said.
Another option is to build a shield over the masking tape with fencing such as chicken wire or wire mesh to prevent larger animals from making contact with the surface.
Leach said there is also a commercially available tire that uses a white fiber material to keep the inward-facing sticky side of the tire away from the trunk of a tree, creating a protected sticky surface and the potential to kill other animals. catch decreases.
“If you decide to use masking tape, check them at least once a week,” Leach said. “If you catch an animal, don’t try to free it yourself. You can endanger the animal and yourself.”
If your tape accidentally catches an animal, you should contact a local animal control officer.
If a homeowner decides to rescue the animal, Leach suggests covering any exposed sticky material with plastic wrap or paper to reduce additional entanglement, removing the tape from the tree as gently as possible, then taking the animal to the nearest animal shelter. to bring into the wild.
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