The Spotted Lanternfly is a planthopper that is native to China, India, and Vietnam. It was first detected in the United States in Berks County, Pennsylvania in September 2014. This invasive species feeds on a wide range of trees such as grape, apple, maple, willow, birch, and many more. Spotted Lanternflies currently pose a significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture and stopping the spread of this insect is extremely important!
The adult Spotted Lanternfly has a black head, gray wings and black spots covering its body while their abdomen is yellow with black and white bands. When in flight, their bodies exhibit a bright red color from their hind wings. The Spotted Lanternfly typically moves by hopping from location to location as they are known to be strong jumpers.
Affect On Trees
The Spotted Lanternfly feeds on over 65 species of plants with the Tree of Heaven being its preferred tree. Nymphs and adult Spotted Lanternflies feed on stems and leaves of trees, by piercing the foliage and digesting the sap. When it feeds on the leaves, the Spotted Lanternfly excretes large amounts of honeydew which encourages fungi and mold growth. The excretions from the Spotted Lanternfly as well as mold coat the forest floor. This also attracts a variety of other insects to the host tree.
During feeding the Spotted Lanternfly drains the tree of sap reserve, and defecates around the tree which reduces photosynthesis and weakens the plant. Many trees can not survive heavy infestation from these insects and die. Currently Pennsylvania's trees and landscape industries are at stake potentially affecting agricultural crops that are worth $18 billion a year!
The lifecycle of a Spotted Lanternfly is one year long. It consists of four stages, beginning in late spring and dying in the winter. From late April to early May, eggs hatch into nymphs (instars), at this time they feed on leaves and branches of host trees.
During the second and third instar stage of the Spotted Lanternfly, insects grow in size but remain black with white spots. The fourth instar stage appears in July. By mid-summer, the Spotted Lanternfly molts and becomes an adult. At this time they develop underwings which are bright red, but you will see this only when they are flying or startled.
In the late summer/early fall, adults mate, resulting in the females laying eggs. The females will lay their eggs on trees, stones, or objects (cars, farm equipment, outdoor furniture). The SLF lays the eggs in a row and covers them with a white waxy secretion. Scientists have observed Spotted Lanternflies lay 2 egg masses with each egg mass harvesting 30-50 eggs.
As they hatch the appearance of the white substance begins to dry up and crack. While the egg masses are strong enough to withstand winter, the adults are not and die off in cold conditions. The egg masses remain protected during the winter season and hatch in the spring. The Spotted Lanternfly completes one generation each year.
What Can You Do About The Spotted Lanternfly?
The Spotted Lanternfly has been wreaking havoc in several states. Not only is agricultural suffering but the Spotted Lanternfly is now negatively affecting the quality of life for people who live in those infested areas.
If you have been dealing with this destructive species, it's likely you want to seek help in killing them. It is important to understand that not all contractors that claim they are qualified to kill Spotted Lanternflies are legally authorized.
Don’t get ripped off by shady contractors! Find out what information you need BEFORE YOU HIRE a contractor to kill Spotted Lanternflies.