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Spotted Lanternfly
This insect will lay 30-50 eggs on any flat surface, enabling them to spread easily and quickly. Credit: Holly Raguza, Bugwood.org

The Spotted Lanternfly's Guide to the Galaxy #HitchHikerBug

 

SPOTTED LANTERNFLY is an invasive insect originally found in China, India or Vietnam, and was introduced into Pennsylvania in 2014.  This insect is a member of Hemiptera, and has piercing/sucking mouthparts.  They feed on a variety hosts including: tree-of-heaven, grapes, apples, stone fruits, walnuts, willows, maples and others.

Adult spotted lanternflies are an inch long and about ½ inches wide.  The front wings are grey with black spots and the hind wings are red with black spots.  Their abdomen is yellow with black bands.  Immature insects are smaller, black with white spots, and as they age red patches develop.  They feed on sap from host trees which frequently cause weeping wounds on their hosts.  Excreted honeydew and, the sap from the wounds, which leaves a greyish or blackish sticky trail on the plant, are attractive to ants and stinging insects such as wasps.  Greyish brown egg masses may be laid on host tree trunks and branches or limbs that are higher in the canopy.  They are also laid on nearby structures, stones and benches.  Heavy populations may cause branch dieback, wilting, or plant death.

Recently, a regional meeting was held in North Carolina to coordinate efforts between industry and cooperative extension specialists from many states.  Effective treatment tactics, general biology, research trials and outreach efforts were discussed thoroughly during the meeting.  Management of Tree-of-heaven is an important component to reducing spotted lanternfly populations.  Tree-of-heaven is either physically removed or persists as a trap tree that is treated with an insecticide such as imidacloprid, dinotefuran, bifenthrin, or carbaryl among some others.  Stanton Gill and I are conducting a research trial in Pennsylvania on the efficacy of Acelepryn and Mainspring, two non-neonicotinoid systemic insecticides, against spotted lanternfly.  Both insecticides are in the diamide class of insecticides.  Research results have been used to develop a management calendar and a guide for homeowner management.  Physical removal of egg masses is one common method available to keep populations low.  Additionally, recent findings report that some of the egg masses have had eggs that did not successfully hatch this spring.  Furthermore, work at Cornell has found two native fungi – one is Beaveria bassiana – seem to cause substantial mortality to spotted lanternflies.  Specialists continue research where populations are sufficient to investigate the ability of the insect to adapt to our environment, the use of native and non-native natural enemies to attack spotted lanternfly, host plants, dispersal at different life stages and other aspects of the insect’s biology.

This particular insect is a very good hitch-hiker; consequently, vehicles, people, paving stones, and other items from neighboring states should be examined closely if they are near infestations. 

Article submitted by: Brian Kunkel on July 10, 2019

Have you seen this insect?

Delaware Department of Agriculture has quarantined some zip codes in New Castle county and are continuing their monitoring program for spotted lanternfly.  They have steps to follow if you believe you have found it:

  • Take a picture with GPS function turned on your smartphone or camera
  • Upload photograph to facebook or Instagram using #HitchHikerBug and/or email HitchHikerBug@state.de.us with your name, contact information, and address where photo was take.
  • Collect a specimen in a vial or plastic zip-lock bag.Turn specimen into DE Department of Agriculture CAPS program
  • If a photo or specimen cannot be acquired call (302) 698-4586 or email HitchHikerBug@state.de.us with information detailing location and contact information