As we speak’s Sportsman: Potomac Valley Fly Fishers develop fly sample to resemble invasive insect | Frederick County

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Today’s Sportsman: Potomac Valley Fly Fishers develop fly pattern to resemble invasive insect | Frederick County

The spotted lanternfly appears to be another invasive insect with Asian origins that has made its way to the United States. The onslaught of the spotted lanternfly follows a list of other invasive insects including the emerald ash borer, woolly adelgid and gypsy moth. Each of these invaders have wreaked havoc on the eastern forests, and the spotted lanternfly is on a similar pattern of destruction.

Spotted lanternflies pose a real threat to American agriculture and natural resources. Since first being noticed in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, the spotted lanternfly has wreaked havoc in the lumber, tree fruit, and wine industries. Spotted lanternfly populations are currently found in 14 states including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

An adult spotted lanternfly is about 2.5 cm long with a wingspan of about 5 cm. Lanternflies resemble moths and are clumsy fliers. They crawl on six legs and hop like a grasshopper when frightened. They don’t glow like a lightning beetle, but were named for their lantern-like shape in flight. Fortunately, spotted lanternflies are harmless to humans. They don’t bite, but they are equipped with a siphon-like mouth used to suck sap from plants and trees.

According to a 2020 Scientific American report, spotted lanternflies feed on more than 70 species of plants and leave behind “honeydew” feces that attract wasps and other stinging insects and produce a black, sooty mold that can cause significant damage to plants. The adult insects die in the cold, but their egg masses, which can hold between 30 and 50 eggs and look like a greyish putty, withstand winter temperatures and release a new generation in spring.

I first encountered a spotted lanternfly infestation in Thurmont last summer when I was helping my neighbor by removing an unwanted tree in his garden. Ailanthus altissim is an invasive tree commonly known as the tree of heaven and happens to be the preferred host for spotted lanternflies. The tree trunk was covered with a cluster of several dozen insects. After cutting down the tree, I was able to crush any intruders fairly easily as they didn’t flee and were easy targets for my size 11 boots.

Tying the spotted lantern fly pattern

Interestingly, a local fishing club has found a unique way to address the problem. The Potomac Valley Fly Fishers believe fly anglers can take advantage of the abundance of adult spotted lanternflies that are blown by the wind in waterways by creating a fly pattern that resembles these pests. If the spotted lanternflies have the same appeal to hungry fish as the periodic Brood X cicadas do in 2021, fly tyers will be in business.

The Potomac Valley Fly Fishers hold a monthly beginner to intermediate fly tying class at Trinity United Methodist Church in Frederick. The spotted lantern fly was the fly pattern chosen at the January meeting of the pre-fly tying session led by Don and Ruby Fine. A total of twelve members attended the course in person, while a camera and monitor were used for those who chose to attend virtually.

The Fines are known locally as capable instructors and experienced fly tyers. They have been offering free fly tying classes for more than a decade now. All materials needed for the participants, as well as a written list of the materials used with step-by-step instructions, will be made available to the participants.

The challenge

The goal was to create a fly that resembled a spotted lanternfly enough to fool a hungry fish while also being an efficient use of time and resources. Tying a spotted lanternfly pattern presented an increased challenge as there are few examples compared to established terrestrial fly patterns that often mimic grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles.

The fly pattern Don chose was derived from a lantern fly pattern posted online by Holsinger’s Fly Shop in Blair County, Pennsylvania. A creative and innovative fly tyer, Don is a master at using the materials available to suit his needs.

I would like to report that the finished products created that night seem to fit the bill. Member Larry Forte challenged everyone to be the first to catch a fish with his spotted lanternfly creations. A documented and shared catch gives the angler well-deserved bragging rights.

learn to bind

The Potomac Valley Fly Fishers invite anyone interested in learning how to tie a fly to participate. No previous experience is required and all materials and tools are provided for the beginner course. This class meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Frederick. The Advanced Fly Tying Course meets every third Wednesday of the month at the same place and time. For those who prefer to participate via ZOOM, there is a Zoom connection for the advanced fly tying session only.

You can watch the recorded fly tying session hosted by Don Fine on YouTube at: