The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species negatively impacting agriculture in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia. This insect may spread and it is important to know how to identify the Spotted Lanternfly during all stages of its lifecycle.
It takes one year for the Spotted Lanternfly to complete its lifecycle. There are four instars (a phase between two periods of molting in development of an insect) of the Spotted Lanternfly. During each of these stages the Spotted Lanternfly can dramatically change in appearance and characteristics.
May - June
The first instar stage of a Spotted Lanternfly starts in the Spring. From late April to early May, eggs hatch into nymphs (instars) which begin to feed on leaves and branches of host trees. At this early instar the Spotted Lanternfly is wingless and appears black with white spots.
June - July
The second and third instar stage of the Spotted Lanternfly occurs at this time. The insect grows in size but is similar to the first stage in color, they remain black with white spots. During this stage the Spotted Lanternfly feeds on a variety of trees. The Spotted Lanternfly moves up and down the tree when they feed. Many people tend to catch the Spotted Lanternfly using tape during this time but this is not likely to work in the following stage.
July - December
The fourth instar stage appears in July. In mid-summer, the Spotted Lanternfly molts and becomes an adult. In the beginning they are not strong at flying and typically jump to each location to feed on plants. They later develop underwings which are bright red, you will most likely see this when they are flying or startled.
During this destructive phase they feed with their piercing mouthparts from May until November. Feeding preferences change during insect maturity. Immature nymphs feed on a large range of trees, while adults are more selective and only feed on a few species. Leaving destruction in their path, the adults die in winter.
October - June
In the late summer/early fall, adults mate, and females lay brown seed
-like eggs. The females will lay their eggs on trees, stones, or objects (cars, farm equipment, outdoor furniture). The females lay the eggs in a row and cover them with a white waxy secretion. The 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. Eggs overwinter, and hatch in the spring. Thus, begins the lifecycle of the Spotted Lanternfly.