Can insurance save your home from spotted lanternflies?

For some states, summer months mean the return of the spotted lanternfly. Can homeowners insurance help protect your trees from the sap sucking species?

Kara McGinley

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.

Published August 18, 2021|3 min read

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A small invasive pest is eyeing your outdoor space. Eight counties in New Jersey and 34 counties in Pennsylvania are following strict guidelines for spotted lanternfly season. The spotted lanternfly first arrived in Pennsylvania in 2014, but the invasive species is now present in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

Spotted lanternflies are tri-colored, covered with spots, and have a noticeable pop of red when they fly. They lay eggs from September to November and become fully-fledged adults in August. Spotted lanternflies can lay eggs pretty much anywhere outside, making the nests harder to spot. It looks like a gray paste along a surface that easily blends into the environment. If you see a lanternfly or nest, the Department of Agriculture suggests you squash it because of their potentially harmful impact on the environment. 

Originally from Asia, these hitchhiking pests are a destructive species that pose a risk to landscaping, forests, and the agriculture industry. They have an appetite for sucking the sap out of the tree of heaven, but also feed on grape vines, hops, maple, oak trees, and others.

A severe spotted lanternfly infestation could end up costing you your trees, landscaping, and sometimes they can even harm your patio or deck. Here’s how to protect your outside space.

How spotted lanternflies can destroy your yard 

Spotted lanternflies feed on plant sap and then excrete a clear sugary, syrupy liquid called honeydew. Honeydew leads to mold and fungi growth, which blocks sunlight and kills plants. Spotted lanternflies breed rapidly and an infestation could quickly hurt your favorite trees and plants. They may also secrete their sticky honeydew across your lawn, deck, and patio. 

Spotted lanternflies don’t have to lay eggs near plants or trees. They can lay eggs on many different types of surfaces, including your patio furniture, tree house, and even car tires. Always check your car tires before leaving your home — you could be taking spotted lanternflies on a ride to their newest location. 

Can home insurance help?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover pest removal of any kind, including spotted lanternfly infestations. If you have spotted lanternfly host trees, like the tree of heaven or oaks, you may want to protect them from infestation by setting sticky tape traps. If that doesn’t suffice, you’ll have to foot the bill yourself if the trees need to be treated by a professional. If you have trees of heaven on your property and live in an area that’s highly at-risk, you may want to consider removing them from your property to prevent an infestation. 

Home insurance also doesn’t cover maintenance issues, so if your deck is covered in the clear, sticky honeydew, you’ll need to clean it yourself with at-home cleaning products. Luckily, spotted lanternflies typically don’t infest inside your home. But if one gets inside your house, you should kill it right away. 

Stopping the spread with a stomp 

Finding and destroying the nests is critical to stopping the spread. You may be able to scrape the nest off with a putty knife and then smash it, or soak the eggs in a bag of bleach or rubbing alcohol. If a tree on your property has an open wound with oozing sap that looks unusual, that may also be a sign of infestation.  

Different insecticides are being tested to help eliminate the invasive species, but as of now many state departments of agriculture are suggesting you kill as many as you can by stomping on them, squishing them, and spraying them with insecticidal soap. Then report the sighting to your state. 

Spotted lanterfly season generally lasts from May until September. If you’re adamant about saving your trees, some experts recommend wrapping a tree in sticky tape or even duct tape. You may want to consult professional lanterfly treatment services to help repel them as well. 

Image: Aleksandar Nakic / Getty Images

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.