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Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, Lateral, photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

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Common Name: Spotted lanternfly
Scientific Name: Lycorma delicatula
Origin: Asia

Description

Adult spotted lanternfly have large, visually striking wings, and are approximately 1” long and 1/2” wide. Their fore-wings are light brown with black spots at the front and a speckled band at the rear. Their hind wings are scarlet with black spots at the front, and white and black bars at the rear. Their abdomen is yellow with black bars. Nymphs in their early stages of development appear black with white spots and turn to a red phase before becoming adults. Egg masses are yellowish-brown in color, covered with a gray, waxy coating prior to hatching.

Habitat

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper known to use Tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, another invasive species, as its primary host. It has been detected feeding on and impacting many plants, including agricultural commodities such as apples, plums, cherries, grapes, peaches, and nectarines. It also feeds on oak, walnut, poplar and other native species. The insect will change hosts as it goes through its developmental stages. Nymphs feed on a wide range of plant species, while adults prefer to feed and lay eggs on Tree of heaven.

Threat

Both nymphs and adults of spotted lanternfly cause damage when they feed, sucking sap from stems and leaves. This can reduce photosynthesis, weaken the plant, and eventually contribute to the plant’s death. In addition, feeding can cause the plant to ooze or weep, resulting in a fermented odor, while the insects themselves excrete large amounts of fluid (honeydew). This fluid promotes mold growth and attracts other insects.

Management

Spotted lanternfly management will vary based on whether the insect is found inside or outside existing quarantine areas, which are continually shifting to keep up with new detections. Keep up with quarantine areas by checking with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Within quarantine areas, egg sacs should be scraped off the host surface, soaked in alcohol or hand sanitizer, double bagged and thrown away. Report all sightings of spotted lanternfly directly to your PRISM or state agency, or through imapinvasives.org.

Symptoms

Attacked trees develop weeping wounds which leave a grey to black trail along the trunk. This sap, or ‘honeydew’ attracts other insects to feed. In late fall, adults lay egg masses on host trees and nearby smooth surfaces like stone and even outdoor furniture or cars.

Distribution

Approaching Region – Watchlist

WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 1 – Early Detection/Prevention

NYS Invasive Species Tiers Chart  – Tier Definitions

Pathways

It is believed that spotted lanternfly arrived in the United States as an egg mass, stuck to a pallet or other shipping material. Spotted lanternfly will lay eggs on pretty much any smooth surface. Individual adults don’t move very far on their own, but are easily transported by people on cars and other vehicles. Egg masses are also easily transported by people.

Help stop the spread!

Learn to identify this pest during each life stage and take action to not transport it. Tree of heaven is the preferred host of the spotted lanternfly. Help us stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly by reporting tree of heaven infestations using iMapInvasives and monitoring stands of tree of heaven for this dangerous insect.

Additional Resources:

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

PennState Extension