Help Stop the Spread of Spotted Lanternfly
|Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org|
The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant hopper species native to southern Asia. It was firstidentified in North America in Berks County, PA in 2014, and has since spread to 13 counties in Pennsylvania. Spotted Lanternflies are extending their range in the U.S., with confirmed specimens having been reported in Delaware, New York, and Virginia in recent months.
Spotted Lanternflies are sap sucking insects. Both nymphs and adults feed on plants by piercing stems and leaves with specialized mouth parts. They can often be found swarming en masse over an infested plant. In addition to weakening the host plant by directly sucking its juices, the insects also exude a sweet honeydew, which can further damage plants by providing a breeding ground for harmful mold.
The Spotted Lanternfly’s preferred food source is the Tree of Heaven. However they will also attack other landscape trees, including fruit and nut trees.
Why Be Concerned?
This insect pest proved highly invasive when introduced to Korea in 2006. It will feed on more than 70 plant species, including valuable food and lumber crops such as grapes, orchard fruits, nut trees, oak, maple, and hops. Potential economic damage should this pest become widespread in the U.S. and/or Canada could tally into the billions of dollars.
How to Identify Spotted Lanternflies
- Adults are approximately 1” long and 1/2” wide. Their forewings are gray with distinctive black spotted and brick-like patterns. The hindwings are black at the tips and deep rose red near the body, separated by a wide band of white. Legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands.
- Newly hatched, wingless nymphs are black with white dots; after several molts they turn bright red with black dots before morphing into winged adults.
- Spotted Lanternfly egg masses measure approximately 1” long. Fresh ones look like patches of encrusted mud; in old ones you can see vertical rows of seed-like egg cases.
Signs of Spotted Lanternfly Infection:
- Entire trees may appear wilted
- Tree trunks may exhibit oozing or weeping wounds, often with a fermented odor and/or a grey or black-colored trail along the trunk
- Spotted Lanternfly females lay their eggs in late fall. Egg masses can be found on trees and nearby surfaces, including stones, buildings, planters, cars, lawn furniture, and machinery such as lawn mowers. Insects often congregate on trees (especially tree of heaven) at dusk and at night
- Honeydew (insect secretions) may collect near the base of infected trees, often covered with sooty-looking mold.
- Increased numbers of wasps and bees may be found near host trees, as they are attracted to the honeydew.
Preventing the Spread
Residents of Pennsylvania, Delaware and surrounding states are encouraged to help control the spread of this invasive pest. Early detection is vital for the protection of several agricultural industries.
Spotted Lanternflies expand their range by laying eggs on vehicles or on other items which are subsequently moved or shipped to another location. The best way to keep the Spotted Lanternfly in check is to monitor the landscape vigilantly and destroy any insects or egg masses found.
Follow These Precautions in Your Landscape
- Learn what Spotted Lanternflies look like at all life stages, and proactively look for them in the landscape.
- Inspect outdoor furniture, hardscape, and other smooth surfaces regularly for the presence of egg masses.
- Inspect vehicles before leaving a potentially infected area.
- Inspect any items that have been stored outside carefully for insects and egg masses before shipping or transporting.
- Avoid moving or transporting firewood or tree trimmings from an infected area.
- Avoid parking vehicles and storing equipment or firewood under trees in at-risk areas.
- Anything near or planted by a tree-of-heaven should be monitored closely and checked for egg masses.
- Tree-of-heaven can itself be invasive; if you have unwanted trees-of-heaven on your property this may be a good time to consider removing them.
What to Do If You Find Spotted Lanternflies
- If you find egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
- Report all destroyed egg masses to your state’s Department of Agriculture. If you live outside the known infestation area, you should collect specimens in a vial or Ziploc bag and submit them to your state’s Department of Agriculture or your extention agent for verification.
- Take a picture: Call us for information on where to submit photos of any life stage of the Spotted Lanternfly.
- If you have a tree-of-heaven or other tree species you’d like to protect, we recommend treating proactively with a systemic trunk treatment in early May. Proactive treatments can reduce the likelihood of spotted lanternfly killing important trees.
- If the problem is more severe and ongoing treatment is required, you can also treat with a foliar insecticide to rid your tree of spotted lanternflies.
Some municipalities and townships are currently being quarantined to help prevent the spread of this aggressive pest. Check with your state’s Department of Agriculture to find out if you are in a quarantined area, and for specific procedures to follow if you are.
We’re Here to Help
Davey is working closely with state authorities to prevent the spread of Spotted Lanternfly. Our expert staff can help you with any aspect of Spotted Lanternfly control, including identification, inspection and monitoring services, systemic treatments, and/or removal of unwanted stands of tree-of-heaven.