This month, we check in with Jim McHale, president of JP McHale, an Anticimex company based in Buchanan, N.Y. As an entomologist, McHale has been at the forefront of actively working with the public to banish the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Commonly known as SLF, this pest is native to China and was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014. As of press time, it has spread to 16 states east of the Mississippi River — thought to be transported mainly by vehicles driving among states.
1. Jim, in a nutshell, what makes SLF a pest?
They are plant parasites that particularly like to feed on grapes, hops and trees, especially trees of heaven (Ailanthus altissima). While feeding, they expel honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance that attracts large numbers of ants and stinging insects. The substance covers all surfaces below it and encourages sooty mold growth. While these true bugs are technically a landscape pest, the pest control industry needs to be aware of just how prevalent and destructive SLF can be for their customers, too.
2. JP McHale’s parent company, Anticimex, has been on the forefront of SLF control since at least 2021, when Viking Pest Control, a sibling company of JP McHale, introduced free, branded scraper cards for customers to use to remove SLF eggs in the New York and Connecticut markets. Do the Anticimex companies still distribute those cards today?
We do. Our Anticimex team of platforms across the U.S. shares best practices and knowledge to continuously refine our offerings. The egg scraping tool started out as a community service and has since evolved into a new market and product line.
3. You launched the JP McHale Spotted Lanternfly Action Prevention (SLAP) Program and Task Force last month in response to the rapid increase in SLF throughout the Greater New York region. How is it being implemented?
The SLAP program is executed out of our Lawn Fertilizer/Plant Healthcare branch. That team is the best equipped and prepared to examine and apply necessary treatment strategies, which includes treating tree trunks and branches with neem oil and other tropical oils. This is combined with a soil treatment that is designed to combat SLF at the source.
4. What is your target market for this service?
Most of our work has been with concerned homeowners, but several businesses, municipalities and community groups also have connected for help.
5. What’s next for JP McHale’s SLAP Program and Task Force?
SLF is spreading rapidly. Awareness and rallying the community are key components to slowing the spread. We will continue to provide commentary, awareness and expertise wherever we can make an impact. I believe that every year, through best practice sharing, we become more efficient.