Red Alert: Spotted lanternfly

Contact: Colleen Kenny, Maryland DNR – Forest Service | colleen.kenny@maryland.gov

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Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture , Bugwood.org

ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 1, 2018) – Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant-hopping insect that attacks and feeds on a wide variety of fruit and tree species. Spotted lanternfly has been spreading throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, and because it was recently found for the first time in Delaware, it has been chosen as Maryland Invasive Species Council's January Invader of the Month.

Spotted lanternfly hatches as a nymph in May. Early instar nymphs are black with white spots. Later instar nymphs appear in July and are black and red with white spots. In July, these instars will molt and become adults. Adults are approximately 1" long and 1/2" wide. They have gray forewings with interlacing black blocks outlined in gray, and red and black hindwings with a white band. The bright hindwings are only seen when the lanternfly is in flight. The abdomen is bright yellow with thick black bands. Adult females lay rows of 30-50 small brown eggs on trees or other structures, and cover many of them with a gray-brown waxy secretion. As the spotted lanternfly feeds on the sap of its tree host, it will secrete honeydew, a sticky substance made of partially digested tree sap. Sooty mold, a black fungus, will often grow at the base of trees where honeydew has accumulated.

Spotted Lantern Fly
Early instar nymphs. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org
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Late instar nymphs. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org
Spotted lanternfly adult. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

Spotted lanternfly will pierce the stem or leaves of its host to suck out sap. They prefer tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), particularly in their adult stage, but will attack many species throughout their lives. Potential hosts include grape, apples, peaches, maples, birches, tulip poplar, black walnut, oaks, and many others. As the insects suck sap from their host, they will weaken the plant and limit photosynthesis, which can eventually lead to death. Sooty mold can form on attacked trees, causing leaf wilt or making fruit trees unmarketable. These impacts could hurt the grape, fruit, and logging industries. Spotted lanternfly is native to Asia and is found in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. It has become an invasive pest in South Korea and was detected for the first time in the United States in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. It has since spread throughout surrounding counties in southeastern PA. It was found outside of Pennsylvania in November 2017 in New Castle County, Delaware.

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Egg masses with waxy covering. Photo: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

While spotted lanternfly has not been found in Maryland, its rapid spread indicates that it could soon arrive in our state. The best way to look for spotted lanternfly is to search for egg masses on tree of heaven, beginning in the fall. Suspected spotted lanternfly should be reported to Maryland Department of Agriculture Plant Protection at 410-841-5920.The egg masses are often difficult to detect, and may hitchhike to new un-infested areas on firewood, grapevines, yard and landscaping waste, and outdoor household items such as lawnmowers, grills, tile, and stone. A quarantine is in place for many of these items across southeastern Pennsylvania, where they may not be moved without a permit.

For more information about other Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland, visit the Maryland Invasive Species Council or call the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5920.

For further information:

MD Department of Agriculture, Spotted Lanternfly

USDA Pest Alert: Spotted Lanternfly

PA Department of Agriculture, Spotted Lanternfly

MD Department of Agriculture, Pest Alert: Spotted Lanternfly (pdf):

MDA-SLF-Pest-Alert-web