Berks

Reports: Lanternfly 'sticky bands' catching birds, squirrels

READING, Pa. - There are a few innocent bystanders in the battle against the spotted lanternfly.

Birds and squirrels have been getting stuck on the sticky traps that are attached to some trees in Berks county and beyond. Experts say if you come across wildlife stuck on a sticky band, don't just pull the animal off.

You're likely to see spotted lanternflies crawling in Berks county and beyond where many are doing their part to catch the invasive insects.

The bugs first appeared in the United States in District Township in 2014 and continue to threaten trees and a number of crops.

"Berks county is ground zero for spotted lanternflies. The infestation began here," said Beth Finlay, who is with Penn State Extension.

Based on the full bands of fly paper stretched around trees- the effort is working. But when it comes to getting things stuck, in some cases, the bands work too well. Some have been catching birds and squirrels.

"It's very distressing and we don't want that to happen and it doesn't have to happen. We have some easy measures to prevent that," she said.

Experts recommend caging to keep birds and squirrels safe. They say wrapping wire around trees just like the yellow sticky tape provides an extra barrier that catches the spotted lanternflies, but protects wildlife.

"Tree banding can threaten other wildlife and we don't want to do that," Finlay said.

Wildlife experts at Berks County Wildlife Control said if you come across a bird or squirrel on the tape, put vegetable oil on them. 

The oil breaks down the adhesive, and the animal will eventually be able to get free.

Experts say the animal is likely already stressed and the added stress of a person trying to manually remove them could kill them.

"If you're going to band trees, also cage," Finlay said.

Experts said squirrels are especially active now that it's getting cooler. If you don't use the caging, use three to five-inch strips of the sticky tape to minimize the chance of wildlife getting stuck.


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