Friday, October 28, 2016

Just SCRAPE IT! Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses

Spotted Lanternfly Adult, Photo courtesy U.S. Dept of Agriculture
Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is a new threat to Pennsylvania and the United States. Experts are still learning about this threat to agriculture and how to combat it.

This pest poses a significant threat to Pennsylvania's $20.5 million grape, $134 million apple, and $24 million stone fruit industries, as well as the hardwood industry in Pennsylvania which accounts for $12 billion in sales.

Early detection is vital to the effective control of this pest and the protection of PA agriculture and natural resources-related businesses.

It's a good time of year to spot the egg cases of the Spotted Lanternfly, now that leaves are falling, foliage is dying back and surfaces are exposed.  SLF adults lay eggs starting in October and will continue to lay eggs through the first few hard frosts.  Egg masses are live and viable from about October through July.

Egg masses can be found on tree bark and other nearby smooth surfaces, like rocks, outdoor furniture, vehicles and other vertical man-made objects which are stored outside. The egg masses are about 1-1.5 inches long and 1/2 -3/4 inches wide. They are gray-brown in color. Newly laid egg masses are somewhat shiny – covered in a waxy coating. The wax, when it is first deposited, is light gray, but it takes on the appearance of mud as it dries.

Photo ©Holly Raguza, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Property owners can scrape egg masses whenever encountered using any hard or rigid tool such as a stick, a putty knife, or credit card. It's unknown if eggs scraped onto the ground can survive, so the best advice is to scrape egg masses in a downward direction into a container with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. They can also be double bagged and thrown in the garbage.

Here's a Penn State slideshow on what to look for:

Please report any egg masses you scrape here: 

More resources:

Guidelines for the Control of Spotted Lanternfly

Scrape It! Campaign information

USDA Pest Alert

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Overwintering Pepper Plants by Master Gardener Karen Murphy

Photo courtesy ©Heather Clemons

There’s always something new to try when gardening. This fall I plan to overwinter peppers, which can be done in two ways.

Method 1:
1) Check plants for bugs or disease.  If diseased or heavily infested with pests, toss them. If not, spray the good plants gently with a hose to remove any insects.

2) Place the plants in containers using existing garden soil or a good, fresh potting mix. Slowly acclimate them to the indoors to avoid stressing the plants and continue to monitor for pests.

3) Once indoors, place in a sunny window and/or under grow lights or fluorescent lights. Peppers prefer temperatures of 60-70F, but not below 50F.

4) Do not let them dry out but water moderately, about once a week.  Continue to fertilize the plants.

5) Harvest peppers during the winter!

6) When planting time arrives, gradually move  the plants outside.

Method 2:
1) Follow steps 1 & 2 above.

2) Once indoors, place in a cool area (about 55F degrees) with a little light.

3) Reduce watering to every three weeks but don't let them go completely dry. The leaves will begin to drop initiating hibernation.

4) Cut back plants to approximately  4" leaving a "Y" shape. Remove any peppers.

5) About one to two months before planting time, move the plants to a warmer, brighter place in your home. Water the plants more frequently.

6) Follow step 6 above.

I plan to experiment with both techniques. Hopefully, I can pick some peppers but if not I'll have great plants for next year's garden!

- Karen Murphy, Bucks County Master Gardener