Spotted lanternfly egg mass

The spotted lanternfly egg mass, left, is muddy in appearance. The gypsy moth eggs, right, are covered in brown hairs and appear fuzzy. Destroy both, when possible, as both species are invasive in Pennsylvania.

For the past 37 years, Elizabeth Powell and her family have gone to tree farms to purchase live trees to decorate for Christmas.

This year, after several people told her spotted lanternflies could hitch a ride into her Manor Township home on her tree, she almost broke with tradition.

“We had already bought a fake tree,” Powell, 60, said Tuesday. “We typically go this weekend (to buy a tree).”

The invasive bug isn’t really attracted to Christmas trees, said Shannon Powers, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Because they are not attracted to evergreens, the chance they have laid their eggs on one would be low, said Timothy Elkner, a Penn State Extension educator.

Bill Coleman, owner of Elizabeth Farms in Lititz, said his property has spotted lanternflies like everyone else in the region; however, he said, the insects do not typically lay eggs on evergreens.

That was enough for Powell to decide to head out this weekend to keep her family’s tradition alive.

Other types of insects

Despite concerns about spotted lanternflies, there are other insects that don’t mind making their homes in evergreens.

According to the Penn State Extension, common insects that attach to Christmas trees include adelgids, aphids, bark beetles, mites, mantises, bark lice, scale insects and spiders.

Be vigilant

Homeowners should inspect trees they bring home for lanternfly eggs and destroy them before bringing the tree inside, Elkner said.

Look between the branches at the trunk and make sure that anything you don’t want in your home, such as spotted lanternfly egg masses and praying mantis egg sacs, are not transported in, Powers said.

Getting rid of insects

For spotted lanternflies, scrape them off of the tree and squish them.

If you find praying mantis egg sacs, Powers suggests putting them outside “so they will hatch in the spring and eat unwanted insects like spotted lanternflies.”

Pest control company Cedarcide suggests shaking your tree to remove any hidden insects.

It also suggests using a vacuum to remove insects once you shake them out of the tree.

Here's everything you need to know about spotted lanternfly egg masses and other insect lookalikes