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Spotted Lanternfly in New Jersey: What you need to know

Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly originally came to the U.S. from their native China, although it is not known exactly how they accomplished this. In any case, they first appeared in Pennsylvania in the year 2014, and have since made their way to six other states, including New York and New Jersey. They are considered to be a serious pest, because they feed on the sap of trees, often weakening them, and in some cases causing them to die completely.

There is cause for concern now that the spotted lanternfly has become established in this country because after being introduced in Korea in 2006, the spotted lanternfly became an extremely invasive species which caused extensive damage in that country. They can impact a number of cash crops, such as fruit orchards, grape vineyards, and nut trees, so they can potentially cause damage which could soar into the billions of dollars.

The information below will help you to identify the spotted lanternfly, so you can take the proper steps to eliminate them from your area, and protect your trees and vegetables from them.

What SLF damage looks like

Spotted lantern Damage

Here are some of the most common results which are easily observable after spotted lanternflies have been feeding on your trees or other plants:

  • leaves wilting or curling up
  • sap spilling out of wounds made in the tree
  • individual branches dying off
  • the unusual presence of ants or wasps around your tree, which are attracted by the honeydew excreted by the spotted lanternflies
  • growth of a sooty, mold fungus on tree trunks and branches, which is encouraged by the presence of the excreted honeydew

How to identify the spotted lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly Stages

Credit: PSU.edu

It’s fairly easy to identify the spotted lanternfly, as it goes through some distinctive changes in accordance with seasonal changes. In the springtime, these pests will appear all black in color, with white spots on their exterior. As spring gives way to summer, their color modifies into a bright red with black stripes and white spots. By the time autumn rolls around, the spotted lanternfly will have evolved into a mature, flying insect equipped with brown wings and black dots, one set of bright red wings having black dots, and a body which is striped in yellow and black.

You may also notice the eggs of the spotted lanternfly appearing on your tree trunks, on lawn furniture, or on patio tiles and other hard surfaces. The eggs themselves are coated with a protective covering by the flies, and this coating has the appearance of a blob of white-brown mud. Soon after they hatch, these insects will use their piercing and sucking mechanisms to begin extracting sap and nutrients from the trees where they hatched from.

Which trees are affected by spotted lanternflies

The tree which is most preferred by the spotted lanternfly is known as the tree-of-heaven, which is a species native to China and Taiwan. The tree has also established a presence in Europe and North America and is considered to be an invasive species and a highly undesirable weed. Part of its negative reputation stems from the fact that it is capable of replicating itself extremely rapidly, and can quickly take over an environment once it establishes a foothold.

All other trees which are impacted by the spotted lanternfly are deciduous in nature, and they include apple trees, oaks, maples, nut trees, and willows. Since all of these trees are highly esteemed, the presence of the spotted lanternfly is never appreciated by tree owners, and immediate steps are generally taken to eradicate the spotted lanternfly when their presence is detected. The pest will also victimize a number of different vegetables, herbs, and vines, as long as they can provide the sap it needs for feeding.

How to eliminate spotted lanternflies

First of all, if you happen to have a tree-of-heaven in your yard, it would be wise to remove it completely, because it will serve as a powerful attractor to these insects. You should be on the lookout for clusters of their eggs, and these should be destroyed when you find them, so they don’t have a chance to hatch.

As soon as you spot an infestation of the spotted lanternfly in your yard, you should contact the Department of Agriculture (DOA) in New Jersey to let them know. They will send a representative to investigate, and if the infestation is confirmed, they will take all steps necessary to remove the insects and any eggs which may be present.

Generally, the New Jersey DOA will require some kind of information or documentation which makes it likely that these flies are present. A quick phone call to New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture will tell you what kind of information they require so that a trip to your house isn’t wasted.

Another common and safe alternative to killing the spotted lanternfly is to mix water with common house-hold dawn dish soap. Spraying this solution will kill the lanternflies and won’t damage your plants or harm domesticated animals. Using dish soap and water is one of the safest and most effective ways to combat spotted lanternflies in their various stages.

Tree Band Spotted Lanternfly

Image Credit: psu.edu

Another commonly used tactic to rid your trees of spotted lanternflies is to use fly-tape.  Fly-tape is a sticky tape commonly used to trap and kill house-flies.  Should you decide to use this method of spotted lanternfly control, know that the spotted lanternfly is not the only insect or animal that can get caught in the sticky fly-tape. Fly-tape can be detrimental to birds and other essential insects in our ecosystem.  Importantly, you must fence off and protect the section of the tree that the tape is applied.

If you have any more questions on how to deal with these invasive pests, please contact us today! Our experienced staff is happy to assist you.

Getting Your Lawnmower Ready For Spring!

Get your mower ready for spring sharpen blades

With spring in full-swing around the country, the grass in your yard is going through its annual growth surge, and becoming taller every day. That’s a good sign that you will need to get your lawn mower ready for the season. A ready lawnmower will help you keep up with weekly growth, and make sure your lawn stays neat and trim.

If you already did some of these tasks before putting your lawnmower away last fall, you’re ahead of the game. If not, now’s the time to start preparing for the lawn mowing season. Those who may be considering purchasing a new mower will discover everything you need at Mendham Garden Centers, where we carry the latest line of Toro Mowers and STIHL lawn equipment.

Continue Reading Getting Your Lawnmower Ready For Spring!

Picking Perfect Perennials & Supplies for Your Jersey Garden: A Hunterdon Perspective

Perennial Flower Bed

As we often tell people who visit our Mendham Garden Centers, it’s important to plant perennials in their proper zone.

What grows in, say, Cape May might not do well in Hunterdon, Chester or Mendham. As you move up and down the growing map for New Jersey, you’ll see different microclimates that dictate your garden from year to year.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at that map and how it can determine what will grow – or not grow – in your garden. Continue Reading Picking Perfect Perennials & Supplies for Your Jersey Garden: A Hunterdon Perspective

Cool as a Not A Cucumber: Plant these Nine Fall Veggies

Woman in her autumn garden

Summer may be at an end, but that doesn’t mean the gardening season has to end with it. The ground is still warm, the weather is still mild and there aren’t as many insects to deal with.

Here at our Mendham, NJ gardener’s supply store, we’re getting plenty of questions from customers on how to tackle the autumn growing season.

It’s a good time to prepare for winter and plant spring-blooming bulbs, but there’s also an opportunity for gardeners who want to boost their vegetable crops. Continue Reading Cool as a Not A Cucumber: Plant these Nine Fall Veggies

The Real Devil of Central & North Jersey Gardening: Weather Woes in Mendham

Too hot. Too cold. Too wet. Too dry.

It would be nice to have a summer with 90 days of perfect weather, but that’s not always the reality. More often than not, we spend the warm weather months protecting our plants against droughts or storms.

But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Here are a few ways you can protect your plants this summer. Continue Reading The Real Devil of Central & North Jersey Gardening: Weather Woes in Mendham

The Grass is Greener on Your Side: Three Steps to a Healthier Lawn

Father and son blowing bubble on the lawn

People have been using some variation of the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side” for centuries.

Go all the way back to Ancient Rome, and you’d hear people sharing the proverb “the harvest is always fruitful in another man’s field.”

But what if you looked out your window and saw that the grass literally was greener on the other side of the street? Maybe it’s not a matter of perspective. Maybe it’s that your neighbor knows the secret to keeping their grass looking its best.   When customers visit Mendham Garden Center looking for lawn mowers or landscaping supplies we often get some version of the grass is greener question.

So here are three practices that can promote a healthier, happier lawn.

Continue Reading The Grass is Greener on Your Side: Three Steps to a Healthier Lawn

Healthy Lawn

8 Ways to Give Yourself a Healthy Lawn This Spring

Good lawns don’t happen by accident.

It takes work to create a lush, green landscape.

In this blog post, we’ll look at eight things you can do to ensure a healthy lawn this spring.

Soil SamplingSoil First

A healthy lawn needs healthy soil, and healthy soil needs to have the right nutrients. Conducting a soil test can tell you whether the nutrients your soil needs are present. This test also helps us recommend a fertilizer program specific to your lawn as well as ways to address nutrient deficiencies. Your local Hunterdon, NJ garden center can offer you more information on conducting a soil test.

Once you’ve made these applications, our program provides your lawn with the nutrients it needs to grow and thrive. A healthy lawn is not only pleasing to look at; it is better prepared to combat potential insect populations and conditions which promote fungus and disease.

TSoil PH Meterhe Time to Lime

The most potentially limiting factor in nutrient availability to your turf is soil pH, which is a value based on the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Soil that has a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 — either neutral or slightly acidic – offers the most nutrients to your turf. A soil test can provide the current pH along with a recommendation for the lime necessary to properly adjust the pH of the soil. Lime can be applied at any time of year.

Spring FertilizerSpring Fertilizer

Your turf greets the spring with all the nutrients it needs stored in its roots from the previous fall (assuming you applied adequate nitrogen).

These reserves help the turf to get off to a good start. As the turf grows it will deplete these reserves and start to rely on carbohydrates being produced. A light application of nitrogen will help the turf to continue to produce green top growth which is where these nutrients are made.

We recommend adding extra nitrogen by around May 1st. Applying too much will only weaken the turf by promoting excessive top growth. An application of ½ to ¾ lb. nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet is generally all you need.

CrabgrassSpring crabgrass control

Crabgrass seed begins to germinate once the average soil temperature reaches around 60 degrees. In this part of New Jersey, you’ll need to apply pre-emergent crab grass control around the time forsythias begin to bloom.

These control products usually stay effective for three to four months, although a second application may be necessary six to eight weeks after the first in areas where crabgrass is a consistent nuisance.

Pay attention to seeding requirements and the fertilizer needs of the turf. Pre-emergent control products should not be applied within three to four months of when you plan to over-seed, depending on use rates. Control product labels provide instructions for reseeding, but a Hunterdon, NJ garden center should also be able to advise you on proper usage for this product.

Broadleaf WeedBroadleaf weed control

You can apply broadleaf weed control anytime weeds are growing, and air temperatures are below 85 degrees. These products are sold as stand-alone, or in combination with fertilizer. Turf fertilizer requirements should be considered when applying these products.

Spring broadleaf weed control is effective, but fall is the optimal time to apply these products. This is when the growth habits of most weeds complement the action of the weed control product and help to translocate the product down into the root system.

You can scale back these applications as time goes by, focusing on spot treatments or alternating every year. Talk to your local Hunterdon, NJ garden center to determine the best weed control practice for your lawn.

Diseased GrassDisease control

While fungus and disease generally need long periods of moisture to develop, conditions can vary, which is why we recommend a broad-spectrum fungicide for preventive and curative control. You’ll need to repeat applications as long as conditions persist.

In general, maintaining a healthy turf thru proper cultural practices is the best defense against fungus. These practices include but are not limited to, proper mowing, soil aeration and effective fertilization including a periodic soil test.

Summer Slow Release FertilizerSummer Fertilizer

Summer fertilizer should typically only be applied when the turf is actively growing and then only if there is adequate soil moisture to support growth. We will usually only recommend summer fertilizer on lawns with supplemental irrigation. Summer applications should not exceed .5 lbs. nitrogen per 1000 square feet. This nitrogen source should be a slow release formulation.

Autumn Fall FertilizerFall Fertilizer

Don’t think of fall as a vacation from lawn work. Now is the time to build a quality lawn. Lateral growth and root development are the priorities for your turf. And two-thirds of the nitrogen you apply to your lawn each year should be applied in the fall. (As we said earlier, this helps build up the nutrients your turf needs for winter.)

We recommend applying nitrogen at least twice at six to eight-week intervals, maybe once around Labor Day and a second application between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Like we said at the beginning, a good lawn takes work, but it’s not a project you need to tackle on your own. If you have questions about these or any other lawn care issues, visit Mendham Garden Center.

Each of our three locations – Mendham, Chester and Annandale – has the products and the experts you’ll need to keep your grass green this year.