Scientific name: Lycorma delicatula
What Is It?
The spotted lanternfly is a piercing, sucking insect native to Asia. Adults and nymphs pierce plants and feed on sap from stems. The insects are strikingly colored and fairly easy to identify.
Is It Here Yet?
No, but spotted lanternfly is in the eastern United States. It was introduced into South Korea, Japan, and the United States. It was found first in North America in Pennsylvania in 2014. The insect was able to quickly spread throughout the state, and since has been detected in fourteen states in the eastern and central part of the country.
Why Should I Care?
Spotted lanternflies feed on a wide variety of plants, including apples, cherries, grapes, hops, plums, walnut, and many more species. High infestations in Pennsylvania have resulted in the death of well-established grape vines. Large populations also generate enormous amounts of honeydew excretions, which can cover plants and promote the growth of molds and attract other insects.
How Can We Stop It?
Make sure you are not transporting eggs, nymphs, or adults from the eastern states. While the adults can disperse by flying, transportation by humans is likely their fastest way of invading new areas. Adults prefer to feed and lay eggs upon the Tree of Heaven (ailanthus altissima), a Class C noxious weed in Washington. Avoid planting Tree of Heaven on your property, and consider safely removing any that already might be present.
What Are Its Characteristics?
- Adults are about 1 inch long, with distinct black spots on light brown or gray wings.
- Their hind wings have a distinct red and black pattern.
- Nymphs are black at first, with bright white spots, and become red as they age.
- Eggs masses look a bit like a smear of light-colored clay, and can be found on outdoor furniture, cars, trains, and plants.
- Adults also produce large quantities of honeydew, which can leave mold at the base of trees that looks like soot.
All photos are courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.