Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper native to China, India, and Vietnam; it is also established in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. It was ﬁrst discovered in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in Berks County in 2014 and has spread to other counties in PA, as well as the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Connecticut and Ohio.
This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops and hardwood trees. SLF feeds on the plant sap of many different plants including grapevines, maples, black walnut, and other important plants in NJ. While it does not harm humans or animals, it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.
Why You Should Care
SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a signiﬁcant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants and the feeding damage signiﬁcantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.
As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.
If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, help us Stomp it Out!
The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a planthopper indigenous to parts of China. It has spread invasively to Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Its host plants include grapes, stone fruits, and Malus species, although its preferred host is Ailanthus altissima (Chinese sumac or tree of heaven). In its native habitat, L. delicatula populations are kept in check by parasitic wasps.
The spotted lanternfly’s life cycle is often centered on its preferred host Ailanthus altissima but L. delicatula can associate with more than 173 plants. Early life stages (instars) of the spotted lanternfly are characterized by spotted black and white nymphs that develop a red pigmentation and wings as they mature. Early life instars display a large host range that narrows with maturation. Adult spotted lanternflies display a black head, grey wings, and red hind wings. Adults do not display any specialized feeding associations with herbaceous plants but have been known to cause extensive damage to crops and ornamental plants. The piercing wounds caused by their mouthparts and the honeydew waste they excrete have been found to be significantly detrimental to the health of host plants.
The species was accidentally introduced into South Korea in 2006 and Japan in 2009, and has since been considered a pest. In September 2014, L. delicatula was first recorded in the United States, and as of 2020, it is an invasive species in much of Northeastern United States. L. delicatula’s egg masses have been found to be the primary vector of spread, with Ailanthus altissima populations seen as a risk factor for further infestation globally. Ongoing pest control efforts have sought to limit population growth, due to the threat L. delicatula poses to global agricultural industries.