It is not news that Northeastern forests are experiencing threats from a range of invasive insect and plant species. While the Emerald Ash Borer has received the lion’s share of the recent attention, there is one insect and tree species paring that may be truly devastating to the region — the Spotted Lantern Fly (SLF) and the Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). FORECON’s Karlie Sherman recently spoke with the Clarion News about this troubling duo.
“The Tree of Heaven has become a big deal over the last couple of years…if (it) isn’t controlled, it is possible the Spotted Lantern Fly will spread much easier,” says Sherman, “because there is evidence that SLF are a lot more successful in reproduction in the Tree of Heaven than in other trees.”
Tree-of-Heaven is an aggressive species that can thrive in unexpected places. It is especially well suited to urban environments and does well on disturbed sites such as those found along transportation, transmission and pipeline rights-of-ways. It can even take advantages of cracks in sidewalks. You may have heard of it as “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” This is the same tree. (https://ecosystems.psu.edu/research/centers/private-forests/news/2018/tree-of-heaven-and-the-spotted-lantern-fly-two-invasive-species-to-watch)
And, if you have not heard of the Spotted Lantern Fly, you will. In just a few years, this insect from China has rapidly spread, and is found in 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties, which are now under quarantine. The Spotted Lantern Fly is threatening fruit and grape production, and other native forest tree species. (To learn more about the Spotted Lantern Fly, start your web search at Penn State Extension’s website. This insect is a major threat and worthy of everyone’s attention.)
The Tree-of-Heaven, which bears a close resemblance to the native Staghorn Sumac ( Rhus typhina) (learn more on how to tell these species apart here https://bygl.osu.edu/node/1346) , is now being classified as an invasive pest plant that should be removed wherever possible. Read more about how you can help stop the Tree of Heaven here https://extension.psu.edu/tree-of-heaven, and how you can identify and help control the Spotted Lantern Fly here: https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly