An invasive species is one that is not native to that region and spreads at a rate that is considered harmful to that region’s regular ecosystem. Invasive species can be plants like noxious weeds, mammals such as european rabbits, or insects like the infamous brown marmorated stink bug.

Over the years, numerous invasive species have been introduced to Pennsylvania ecosystems.  Each one of them poses a unique threat to the local flora and fauna, but if you own property in Philadelphia or Montgomery County, two insect species that you absolutely have to be aware of are the Spotted Lanternfly and the Emerald Ash Borer. Both of these species tend to emerge in early summer and can destroy local tree populations if they are not controlled. Invasive species are often extremely difficult to fully eradicate from an entire region, but by identifying and handling the problem early, you can make sure your trees stay healthy all summer long. As their hatching seasons approach, here is what all Pennsylvania homeowners should know about the spotted lanternfly and the emerald ash borer

Emerald Ash Borer 

The emerald ash borer is a species of beetle originally native to Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Northern China. These beetles are named for their shiny green color and the fact that their larvae feed on the local ash tree population. This species was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2007 and has since decimated the ash tree population in the commonwealth, shrinking the total amount of ash forests by 12% as of 2014. 


Ash Borer larvae feed on ash trees by burrowing under their bark. Typically, infested ash trees die in about 3-5 years after their initial introduction to these insects. There are several ways you can identify a tree that has been infested with ash borers. Their larvae leave “s-shaped” marks under the bark where they feed, and once grown, the adult beetles leave unique “D-shaped” holes in the bark where they emerge. Ash borer hatchings begin in late spring, often becoming noticeable by the end of May and peaking in June.  

If you have ash trees on your property and have noticed these insects on leaves or unique holes in their bark or wood, you have several options regarding how to handle them. Trees can simply be removed or treated by a specialized insecticide designed to prevent ash borer attacks. Once an ash borer infestation is identified, it is crucial to handle it promptly- contacting the right team of tree specialists quickly can help you avoid removing dead ash trees from your property. 

Spotted Lanternfly 

The Spotted Lanternfly is a planthopper that was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, since then, their population here has steadily grown without normal predators to mitigate it. Spotted lanternflies feed on sap from a wide range of plant species and have caused significant damage to trees and agriculture in Pennsylvania. 

The nymphs, which are black with white spots, can be found from spring to early summer. Adults, which typically start appearing in July and can be seen until late fall, have gray and red wings with black spots. Removal of host trees is a common solution for advanced infestations, but some can be treated with pesticides. Once spotted lanternflies are identified, reaching out to an expert early can help save infested trees and prevent the flies from spreading.  

Invasive species like the emerald ash borer and the spotted lanternfly are nearly impossible to handle on your own, and they can quickly spread if they aren’t dealt with properly. Working with the right specialists can help prevent serious tree damage and keep your lawn beautiful all summer long. Contact Liberty Tree & Landscape Management today to learn more about invasive species management and getting rid of insects of all types in Pennsylvania.