The Spotted Lanternfly Invasion

The Spotted Lanternfly has invaded the East Coast of the United States. This type of insect has no natural predators here and is an invasive species. The CDC and the Department Of Agriculture are urging residents throughout the East Coast to kill singles on sight and report infestations. The LanternFly, if not eradicated can destroy plant life, such as crops, trees and other resources we need to sustain livability.

In a Facebook post early Friday morning, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture warned that spotted lanternfly nymphs are beginning to change colors and are becoming more destructive.

“They’re growing! And…changing? #SpottedLanternfly nymphs are beginning to turn red,” the post warned. If you see a #BadBug that looks like this, kill singles and report infestations!!!

The egg masses from spotted lanternflies can generally be seen on various species of trees through the month of May, before the lanternfly begins to hatch.

Nymphs first appear black with white spots and are wingless, but ultimately develops red patches and white spots as they mature. At this point, the Department of Agriculture says:

Nymphs are now over a half-inch inch long
Jump readily when approached or touched
Adult spotted lanternflies begin appearing in July. At rest, they are large bugs sporting grayish wings with black spots, and the tips are black and gray.

When flying or startled, the insect will display vibrant red hind wings
Adults are around 1 inch long and a half inch wide with wings folded
Adults can jump several feet when startled or approached
Officials are urging anyone who sees this invasive bug to kill if possible and to report infestations online at https://extension.psu.edu/.

The state continues to fight the spread of the spotted lanternfly. In April, the Department of Agriculture began requiring businesses to have a permit to move goods and vehicles within and out of the lanternfly quarantine zone, which includes Lehigh and Northampton counties and most of eastern Pennsylvania. Inspectors continue to be on the lookout for businesses to make sure they have a permit that indicates the company has completed training on the quarantine rules.

Businesses face deadline to get spotted lanternfly permit
Officials are reminding any business without a permit to obtain one and learn the basics of spotting the spotted lanternfly.

Origin and distribution
Spotted lanternfly is native to China and is present in Southeast Asia. It was first reported in South Korea in 2006 and rapidly spread to different parts of the country.

Host range
Spotted lanternfly feeds on a variety of host plants including fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, and vines. Apples, birch, cherry, dogwood, grapes, Korean Evodia, lilac, maple, poplar, stone fruits, and tree-of-heaven are among more than 70 species of hosts attacked by this pest. Tree-of-heaven, which contains high concentrations of cytotoxic alkaloids, is one of the favorite hosts. This is probably why spotted lanternfly is considered poisonous and used in traditional Chinese medicine. Other preferred hosts such as Korean Evodia (Bebe tree) are also used in oriental medicine suggesting that spotted lanternfly has a high preference for hosts that contain toxic secondary metabolites. Observations in South Korea also indicate that spotted lanternfly appears to have a wider host range early in life as young nymphs and a narrow range as they grow older, especially before egg laying. Choosing plants with toxic metabolites for egg laying is thought to be a mechanism of defense to protect from natural enemies. Although grape vine does not have toxic metabolites like these other hosts, spotted lanternfly showed a strong preference in studies conducted in South Korea. Sugar content of the host plant also appears to play a role in their choice with a preference for hosts containing high sucrose and fructose content.

Damage
Adults and nymphs feed on phloem tissues of foliage and young stems with their piercing and sucking mouth-parts and excrete large quantities of liquid. Due to the sugar content of the liquid, plant parts covered with spotted lanternfly excretion harbor mold growth, which could hinder plant growth or even cause death.

Scientists/biologists are working on a way to cull the lanternflies numbers. Right now they believe a fungus and a local wasp species are able to decrease the lanternflies numbers. When we receive more information pertaining to the certainty we will update.