The hunt is on to kill as many Spotted Lanternfly nymphs as possible before they mature and spread their colorful wings. Hell’s Kitchen locals have seen nymphs raining down from the treetops around the neighborhood and they’ve even made their way inside some residents’ apartments via air conditioning units! We asked readers to tell us their preferred method to kill these invasive pests and the list includes swatting, drowning and spraying. We’ve also found a way of sticking it to the invasive pests — and made a video with instructions for you to build a sticky DIY tree trap.

spotted lanternfly nymphs on a vine
Spotted Lanternfly nymphs on a vine in Clinton Community Garden on West 48th Street. Photo: Chris LeBron

When the Spotted Lanternfly arrived in Pennsylvania from China, NPR reported that it could be the worst invasive species in the United States in 150 Years. It was spotted in Hell’s Kitchen for the first time in August 2021.

West 50s resident Charlie Todd has taken to swatting nymphs in his backyard with the help of a fly swatter modified with Gorilla tape by his wife Cody. Some of the nymphs are very small, so the tape prevents them from slipping through the openings. They have successfully swatted hundreds with this method. 

man with fly swatter
Charlie Todd showing off his modified fly swatter with a dead nymph in his building’s backyard. Photo: Charlie Todd

Looking for a more passive approach? Charlie also showed us a small dish of water mixed with vinegar and dish soap that had five dead nymphs floating at the surface. Although this water trap was placed at the base of a small shrub, Charlie reported it has not been as effective as the swatting method. 

In a combination of the above methods, W42ST reader Don Flanders has been squirting the nymphs with pure vinegar in a spray bottle. His back patio is littered with the remains of nymphs who have succumbed to this method of attack. Unfortunately, Don has a “Tree of Heaven” in his backyard that was covered with Spotted Lanternfly egg masses over the fall months. His landlord scrapped a bunch of them off, but a few masses remained on the higher branches. Don invited us to test out our sticky DIY lanternfly trap on his tree in hopes of finding a more effective way to rid his backyard of this spotted menace. 

The tree trap we made was inspired by a YouTube video from the Lancaster County Conservation District’s very own Spotted Lanternfly Technician. We picked up supplies from West Side Home Center (778 9th Ave at W52nd St) for around $20. This trap utilizes sticky tape (we tried duct tape first), fiberglass window screening and thumbtacks. The only additional tools needed are a pair of scissors and a soft tape measure. Unfortunately, the duct tape was not sticky enough to catch the nymphs so we splurged on a package of Catchmaster Tree Shields from Amazon. The guys over at West Side Home Center are working to see if they can source this product as well. 

YouTube video
Catie Savage demonstrates how to make a DIY Spotted Lanternfly tree trap along with other tips for killing these pests

After identifying an infested tree, you want to wrap the trunk with the sticky tree shield tape at about eye level or roughly 4’ from the ground. While our video shows us wrapping the tree multiple times for a wide band of sticky tape, you really only need to go around once as the nymphs seem to get stuck right at the bottom edge of the tape. 

Next up is attaching the window screen to the tree. The screen prevents birds and other small animals from getting stuck on the tape, but will catch the Spotted Lanternfly nymphs as they climb up the tree. To determine how much screen you need to cut, measure around the tree with the tape measure. Once you have that number, multiple by 1.5 to get the length for your window screen. If math isn’t your strong suit, place the zero end of the tape measure at the circumference you just got and fold it in half. The number at the fold is how many inches you will add to the original measurement to get your cut length. For example, a 20” tree would need 30” of window screen. Since we had a 36” wide roll of window screen, we first cut the roll in half to create two by 18” rolls. 

spotted lanternfly nymph caught on sticky tape
Spotted Lanternfly nymph stuck to the tree shield tape. Photo: Catie Savage

Attach the screen to the tree a few inches above the tape using thumbtacks. Leave a few inches of flat screen before making 1” pleats every 4” or so around the tree, securing each pleat with a thumbtack. Make sure you leave a few inches at the end as well for overlap. Now that your trap is complete, it’s time to sit back and watch the nymphs get caught. Would you try this method on an infested tree near you? Share your hints and tips to get rid of these pests in the comments — and if we don’t stop them, our summer could look like this video!

YouTube video

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