Virginia Turfgrass Journal – Eric Day, Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
The spotted lanternfly (SLF) was detected in Virginia in January 2018. It is an invasive planthopper that was discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014. In Pennsylvania and its native range, SLF is a pest of grapes, peaches, hops, and apples. It is commonly associated with tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima. It has the potential to be a serious pest of agriculture and home gardens in Virginia.
The early nymphs are wingless, black, and have white spots on the body and legs. The later stage nymph develops red patches over the body while retaining the white-spot pattern.
Adult SLF are approximately 1″ long and ½” wide. The legs and head are black, while the abdomen is yellow with broad, black bands on top and bottom. Its front wings are light-brown/grey with black spots and dashed black lines at the tip. The hind wings have scarlet red and black sections that are separated by a white stripe. At rest, the SLF shows light-brown, grayish wings with black spots held “tent-like” over its body. Adult females are distinguished by the presence of a red spot on the end of the abdomen.
SLF egg masses contain 30–50 eggs, are 1–1.5″ long and ½–¾” wide, grayish-brown in color, and covered with a grey, waxy coating (newly laid egg masses are somewhat shiny). Old egg masses appear as rows of 30–50 brownish seed-like deposits in 4–7 columns, measuring roughly 1″ long.
Although SLF is most commonly found on Ailanthus (tree-of-heaven), it can be found on over 70 other species of trees and is a pest of grapes, hops, peaches, and other tree fruits. In Pennsylvania where it is established in 13 counties, it occurs in extreme numbers in backyards and negatively impacts human activity.
Signs and symptoms:
Since the SLF produce sugary secretions called honeydew, look for the black sooty mold that grows on the honeydew. The sooty mold will cover branches, trunks, and man-made objects under the tree. In addition, some of the honeydew will ferment, leaving a vinegar smell. The black sooty mold makes it appear like a fire has scorched the area.
For information on Spotted Lanternfly
If you think you have found the Spotted Lanternfly
5 Steps to Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Habitat
By Dr. Danesha Seth Carley, Director, SIPMC & NC IPM Coordinator , North Carolina State University and Dr. Terri Billeisen, Extension Associate, North Carolina State University
Insects are the most common and abundant pollinators in the world. Although bees may be the most well-known insect pollinators, there are many other insect species, including butterflies, moths, wasps, flies and beetles, which also play an important role in plant pollination. Due to increased interest in pollinator and wildlife communities in turfgrass environments, we are conducting a study examining how the implementation of pollinator-friendly habitat on established golf courses impact pollinator populations. In the spring and summer of 2018, we set out across the state, sampling for pollinators in managed turfgrass environments to determine which insects were already present prior to establishing refuge areas the following season. This fall we returned to these sites to plant pollinator-friendly seed mixes. After some trial and error, we have identified a few key things to know prior to establishing pollinator habitat. Our five summarized key steps to creating pollinator-friendly habitat on your golf course or managed turfgrass area are as follows:
- Identify suitable location and prep the site
- Select a site on your golf course that will be visible to members but is out of the way of traffic or errant golf balls. For our research, we selected areas lining cart paths and natural rough areas, especially around tees and along tree lines. If you have a lot of trees on your course, be sure to choose a site that gets at least 6–8 hours of direct sunlight a day.
- Eliminate plant competition by removing shrubs, small trees and unwanted plants either by hand cultivation or selective herbicide application. If a controlled spring burn is an option for your site, it can help to eliminate brush cover and undesirable weeds.
- After all weed roots are dead, switch to shallow cultivations timed to eliminate freshly germinated weed seedlings – generally two weeks after the first cultivation. If you are planting your large site to pollinator-friendly seeds in the fall, use a harrow or drag to produce a smooth, clod-free seed bed. If your soil is subject to erosion, consider deferring planting until spring and first plant a winter cover crop in the previous fall.
- If necessary, a rototiller can be used to break up the ground and soften the soil. It is important to “till” only as deep as necessary to remove old roots. Four to six inches deep should do the trick. Drag the area to break up any large clumps. After a final dragging, the soil will be ready to plant.
- Seed the prepped area
- Seed can be applied either by hand or spreader (Fig. 1). Scatter the seed slowly to ensure an even distribution. Sand, compost, peat moss, or moistened sawdust can be added to the seed mix to increase the volume of what you are spreading for small areas. For large sites, dividing your planting area and seed mix into smaller parts can facilitate even seed distribution. Keep in mind that sand may be too heavy as a filler for very large areas.
- A surefire method of sowing seeds that encourages an even application: separate the seed you’re planting, no matter the amount, into roughly two equal parts. Put the first half in a clean bucket (or coffee can, or anything else handy), and then add in roughly eight parts of dry filler to one part of seed. (Always make sure that your filler is dry – especially if it has been stored outdoors. Wet filler tends to clump and can cause your seed to be applied unevenly.)
- You’ll have the best chance of an even application if you scatter your seeds in two sowings. To do this, take the container with one half of your seeds and sow them as evenly as possible while walking across your site from north to south. Then take the other half and apply in a similar manner, this time walking from east to west.
- Post-seeding: it is a good idea to pack or roll the newly-
- seeded area to firm the soil around the seed, reduce moisture loss and discourage weed growth. For small-sized patches, you can use your feet to compress seeds into the soil. For medium-sized gardens and beds, lay a piece of cardboard or plywood over the soil and walk all over it. This will evenly distribute your weight across the soil, giving the same compression effect as using a professional roller. For large, meadow-sized plantings, you can use a Seed Roller – either as a tractor attachment or as a walk-behind tool.
- No matter if you’re planting in spring or fall, there is generally no need to cover the seed. Wildflower seeds are often very tiny, and many require light to germinate. Unlike veggie seeds, which are typically planted in holes and buried within the soil, wildflower seeds are scattered on top of the soil and left exposed.
- Wildflower seeds and seedlings must stay moist until they are four to six inches tall (usually four to six weeks). Prior to reaching this height, the seedlings are unable to access enough groundwater via their roots to grow. Monitor the seeded area for the first few weeks, especially if the site has not received any rainfall, and wet the soil as needed (1/8 in. should be sufficient).
- Unlike other flower beds, wildflower areas can be mowed which will help prevent quick-growing weeds from excessively shading the new native seedlings. Mow if weedy growth reaches 8–10 inches and cut everything to a height of 4–5 inches. Don’t worry too much about trimming your wildflowers. They should be ok, especially if the weed competition is reduced. Stop mowing at the end of the first season. If weeds are thick in the beginning of the second season, mow or spot-mow once or twice. If you choose to mow again to knock back any remaining weeds, raise the cutting height to 10–12 inches.
- Long-term Management
- Most native plantings, after two or three growing seasons, need to be burned annually for the next five or more years to become well established. Burning yields better growth and more flowers. If a planting is not periodically burned, a thatch layer can build up over the years, causing some native species to grow poorly or even to die out completely. Burning is the single most important management practice for native plantings. Burning in March or April will stimulate growth of native plants and give them a competitive edge over weeds. Always use caution and common sense when burning. Follow local fire regulations, obtain permits and have plenty of tools and help on hand.
- If burning is not permitted at your site or if you prefer not to use this method, you can mow or manually remove thatch in early spring (late February to mid-April). Last year’s dead stems will not hide the new growth and flowers, and the sun’s rays still will be able to warm the soil.
Of course, there are always challenges when establishing new managed wildflower or native areas. Be sure to mark newly planted sites with flags, a border, or a sign (Fig. 2) to alert maintenance personnel that the area should not be mowed or sprayed. Be sure to monitor the site each week to check for seedling sprouting and growth, adequate soil moisture and any signs of mechanical disruption. It may be useful to take pictures of flowering plants in the spring and summer, along with visiting pollinator species, to include in newsletters to members.
Remember, attracting beneficial insects to a managed turfgrass area is easier than you think. Golf courses provide so many resources in terms of irrigation, fertilizer, and other inputs to encourage healthy turfgrass growth, and adding some wildflowers to the environment takes minimal additional effort. The result will be a beautiful, site-enhancing feature that not only provides important refuge for beneficial, pollinating insect species, but an additional conversation piece for your members as well.
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