Spotted Lanternfly Program Information
On September 22, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of
Agriculture, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, confirmed
the presence the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, (WHITE)) in Berks
County, Pennsylvania, the first detection of this non-native species in the
United States. Upon determination that the potential impact to Pennsylvania's
agricultural economy and natural resources was great, the Pennsylvania
Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine with the intent to restrict the movement
of the Spotted Lanternfly on November 1, 2014. Counties in eastern Pennsylvania
are under limited movement quarantine as the Department and its federal, state,
local and non-governmental cooperators develop a strategy to eliminate this
pest from the Commonwealth. Up to date maps of the quarantine are available
from the side bar: "Lycorma Quarantine Map".
The Spotted Lanternfly is a plant hopper native to China,
India and Vietnam, and has been introduced in South Korea and Japan. In Korea, where it was first detected in
2004, the Spotted Lanternfly is known utilize more than 70 species, 25 of which
also occur in Pennsylvania, including cultivated grapes, fruit trees, and
hardwood species. In the U.S., the Spotted
Lanternfly has the potential to greatly impact the viticulture (grape), tree
fruit, plant nursery and timber industries. This pest poses a significant threat to the state’s more than $28
million grape, $87 million apple, and more than $19 million peach industries,
as well as the hardwood industry in Pennsylvania which accounts for nearly $17
billion in sales.
Early detection is vital to the effective control of this
pest and the protection of PA agriculture and natural resources-related
In Pennsylvania, the Spotted Lanternfly overwinters in egg
masses laid on smooth bark, stone, and other flat surfaces. The first of
four immature stages, or instars, began emerging from the egg masses in
mid-May, with a few individuals that had molted to second instar nymphs by the
end of May. The first instar nymph is black with white spots and wingless. As it grows, the Spotted Lanternfly develops
red patches in addition to the white spots.
Nymphs spread from the initial site by crawling or jumping up any woody
or non-woody plant it comes across to feed.
In Korea, the Spotted Lanternfly is known to gradually prefer
Tree-of-Heaven/Paradise Tree (Ailanthus altissima) as it nears the adult
Adults can be seen as early as the middle of July and take
on a much different appearance. Adults
at rest have a black head and grayish wings with black spots. The tips of the wings are a combination of
black rectangular blocks with grey outlines.
When startled or flying the Spotted Lanternfly will display hind wings
that are red at the base and black at the tip with a white stripe dividing
them. The red portion of the wing is
also adorned with black spots. The
abdomen is bright to pale yellow with bands of black on the top and bottom
surfaces. While a poor flyer, the
Spotted Lanternfly is a strong jumper.
In the fall, adults prefer Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), another introduced
invasive species in Pennsylvania, as their primary food source, mating and
egg-laying location. However, Tree of
Heaven is not the only tree or surface the Spotted Lanternfly will lay eggs
upon – any smooth trunked tree, stone or flat smooth surface can provide a
potential host for eggs masses. Manmade
items like vehicles, campers, yard furniture, farm equipment or any other items
stored outside are suitable sites for egg laying. Egg laying begins in late September and
continues through late November or early December.
Tree of heaven (Ailanthus
altissima), also known as Paradise tree, is a fast growing deciduous tree
that is native to China. It is often
found growing in disturbed sites or along roadways where it can establish rapidly. Ailanthus has smooth, light gray bark with
large “palm-like” leaves that can grow up to 3 feet in length. The leaflets have smooth edges and 2-4
identifying glands on the underside of the leaflet near the stem. When crushed, the leaves will have a rancid
smell often described as “spoiled” or “burnt” peanut butter. The tree of heaven tends to grow in clumps
where many individual stems share one common root system. Some of these stems may succumb quickly while
others may reach a height of 60-80 feet.
Large clusters of blooming yellow-green flowers will hang from the end
of new shoots in summer. Flowers will
turn to seeds encased in winged, papery samaras (similar to maple seeds), that
are tan to red in color, becoming dry and brown as fall approaches.
Signs and Symptoms:
In the Spring, beginning in late April to mid-May, search
for the nymphs on smaller plants and vines, and any new growth on trees and
shrubs. Fruit trees and grapes may be
more susceptible to damage and mortality when larger populations of
Lanternflies are found nearby.
As the year progresses third and fourth instar nymphs and
adults will migrate to Tree of Heaven, as a primary host, and may be seen
feeding on the trunk and branches of the tree.
Trees can be afflicted with weeping wounds of sap on the trunks, with
heavy populations causing honey dew secretions to build up at the base of the
tree, blackening the base of the tree and surrounding soil around the base with
sooty mold fungal growth. Increased
activity of wasps, hornets, bees, and ants can be seen feeding on honeydew
secretions and at tree wounds. In large
population areas, adults will also be seen feeding on other trees in the
surrounding area, including willows, maples, poplars, tulip poplars, birch,
ash, and others.
The Spotted Lanternfly begins laying eggs in masses of 30 to
50 eggs, covered in a brown, mud-like substance, in late September or early
October. Egg masses may be found on
adult host trees, especially Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus
alitissima), moderately-sized stones and other smooth surfaced outdoor
items, such as lawn furniture, stone and brick work, and outdoor recreational
vehicles. The egg mass poses, perhaps,
the greatest risk for accidental transport of the Spotted Lanternfly to new
An initial delimiting survey was conducted from October 2014
through December 2014 which suggested that the introduction of Spotted
Lanternfly was limited to a small area of Eastern Berks County in Pennsylvania,
and had likely only been there for a few years. Several businesses operate in
the infested area and worked with PDA to provide locations where material might
have been moved. These locations were inspected by PDA plant inspectors and
their counterparts in other states. No detections were made at these sites.
PDA has continued to conduct surveys throughout the
Commonwealth to determine how far Spotted Lanternfly has spread.
PDA has held yearly town hall meetings to provide updates to
the community and offers all quarantined municipalities the opportunity to have
someone speak at municipal meetings.
with the goal of eradication:
The United States Department of Agriculture assembled a new
pest advisory group directly after the detection of the spotted
lanternfly. This group meets weekly by
teleconference and helps determine the impact of new pests, identifies
resources, and offers guidance to a new pest response. This includes the identification of resources
and the formation of a technical working group comprised of plant hopper
experts, which is able to answer questions about the pest. This group has supported Pennsylvania's
response by putting the state in touch with resources needed to respond to this
Since 2014, Pennsylvania has been awarded $5.5 million through
the Farm Bill to perform control work, conduct research, and implement outreach
to affected citizens. Most of the award was made available to the Pennsylvania
Department of Agriculture to implement control and perform survey work. The rest of the grant has been made available
to Kutztown University, Penn State University, and North Carolina State
University to conduct research on the pest.
Efforts will focus on identifying the host range of the pest, its impact
on grapes, and an analysis of its DNA. A grant to perform outreach and
extension was also awarded to Penn State University.
In addition, through the efforts of the technical working
group, several important questions are being investigated. These include testing the effects of chipping
woody material on spotted lanternfly egg mass survivorship, the effects of
various existing pesticides on immature life stages, and the attractiveness of
certain plant volatiles for use in trapping programs.
What You Can Do
This insect is easily moved if no one is looking. If you are in the quarantine area, please “Look Before You Leave.” Inspecting your vehicles, trailers, or any outdoor items before you move around or out of the quarantine is important. If possible, don’t park in tree lines and keep windows rolled up when you park your vehicle. Know the life stages of the insect and when to look for them.
Using the recommendations developed by Penn State Extension, take control measures on your own property. Any efforts you make in destroying the Spotted Lanternfly or it’s egg masses helps your property and community.
Report sightings of the Spotted Lanternfly. All reports of SLF outside of the quarantine are taken seriously and will be investigated. Reports within the quarantine are registered in a database for USDA and PDA. The database is used to help determine properties for treatment. Treatment is based on location, risk, and available funds.
Please join the effort to control and prevent the spread of Spotted Lanternfly. We need everyone to protect their properties, communities, and the Commonwealth from this invasive insect that has the potential to change our landscape and quality of life.