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Staying vigilant for the spotted lanternfly around Pittsburgh as fall approaches

PITTSBURGH — In her backyard in Pittsburgh’s Avalon neighborhood, Maxine Erdman first noticed the weird little bug first thing in the morning. It was a spotted lanternfly, a critter posing big problems for trees and backyards here in western Pennsylvania.

“When I went to college in Allentown, it was like you were walking across a carpet of them every singe day,” she said. “They kill trees very quickly so it’s a danger not only to the trees but to people’s property. It’ll cost a lot of money if we let them take over.”

Erdman has what’s known as a “Tree of Heaven” in her backyard and it’s the preferred prey of the spotted lanternfly. She’s now talking with her landlord about getting it cut down, something that could cost thousands of dollars.

With fall right around the corner, the bugs are going to start laying eggs.

“It’s really important to notice if they are around, track where they are, kill the adults however you can and find where they’re laying eggs so they can remove the eggs over the winter before they hatch,” said entomologist Ryan Gott. “As they feed, they create a lot of this really sticky substance called honeydew and that will coat everything around them. Things get sticky and shiny which is basically sugar and that attracts yellow jackets and dangerous nuisance insects.”

If you see one, officials said it’s critical that you report it immediately to the Department of Agriculture.