Contributed by:  Eric A. Moore, M.S., Martha S. Miller & Rusty Miller Endowed Urban Forestry Intern at Morris Arboretum

 

The spotted lanternfly is a pest insect accidentally introduced to Bucks County in late 2014. Originally native to China, India, Vietnam, and East Asiathis pest now threatens the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions’ logging, grape, and tree fruit industries. Currently, there is an ongoing effort to quarantine these insects until a more effective control strategy can be implemented. To view to most recently updated list of quarantine zones, visit the link at the bottom of this page.

If you live in a designated quarantine zone, it is important to prevent further spread by identifying and destroying these insects and their egg masses (below). Evidence suggests that spotted lanterflies prefer Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-Heaven) trees as a host plant. Therefore, if you own one of these trees or park underneath them regularly, you should diligently look for signs of spotted lanternfly. Egg masses can be transported on cars, plant material, lawn equipment (such as mowers), and other substrates such as stone and tarps. If you come across a spotted lanternfly or egg masses, it is advised to kill them by scraping them into a platic bag containing alcohol. It is also advised that people living in quarantine areas familiarize themselves with the spotted lanternfly life cycle because their appearance can vary depending on life stage. Images of spotted lanternfly nymphs are shown below. More information about spotted lanternfly life cycles can be found on the Penn State Extension webpage.

Spotted lanternflies do not exclusively feed on A. altissima and can be found on both woody and non-woody plants including black walnut. They use piecing mouthparts to suck out plant sugars, which wounds the plant and furthers its susceptibility to harmful fungal and bacterial pathogens. One succesful control strategy involves applying sticky bands to preferred host trees that capture and ultimately kill the flies.

If you are concerned about spotted lanternfly in your area be sure to see the Penn State Extension webpage for more information on what you can do to help manage the pest.