Spotted Lanternfly: All You Need to Know for a Bug-Free Life

The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive insect that has become a serious threat to plants and crops in the United States. Native to China, this pest was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread to other eastern U.S. states. They feed on a variety of fruit, ornamental, and woody trees, with tree-of-heaven being one of their preferred hosts. Learn more from USDA

As you read on, you’ll discover important facts about the Spotted Lanternfly, including its life cycle, the damage it causes, and how to identify and control its population. By familiarizing yourself with this pest, you can contribute to efforts aimed at limiting its devastating impact on the environment and agriculture.

One crucial aspect in managing Spotted Lanternfly populations is the identification and destruction of their eggs. These pests lay their eggs in masses, which can be found on trees and other outdoor surfaces. By crushing the egg masses, or using other recommended methods, you can play a role in stopping the spread of this invasive species. More info from Phila.gov

What Is a Spotted Lanternfly?

The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive insect native to Asia, specifically China, India, and Vietnam. It was first identified in the United States in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania [source]. It is an invasive pest that poses a serious threat to various plants in North America.

This insect is not a true fly; rather, it’s a planthopper belonging to the order Hemiptera, which includes true bugs, aphids, and cicadas. The spotted lanternfly is quite distinctive, growing up to an inch long and featuring large, brightly colored wings. Although these insects can fly, they often prefer to jump and glide [source].

Spotted lanternflies can cause significant damage to plants. They feed on a wide range of plant species, including fruit, ornamental, and woody trees, with the tree-of-heaven being one of their preferred hosts [source]. As they feed on the sap of plants, they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which promotes the growth of sooty mold, negatively affecting plant health and fruit production.

Keep in mind the spotted lanternfly is an invasive species, and it’s essential to take appropriate measures to control and eradicate it. If you ever encounter these insects, follow the recommendations of experts to report and control them effectively [source].

Lifecycle of the Spotted Lanternfly

The lifecycle of the Spotted Lanternfly starts with egg masses. Female lanternflies lay their eggs on various surfaces, such as tree trunks and outdoor furniture. These egg masses are covered in a muddy-looking substance to protect them during the winter. In the spring, nymphs hatch from these eggs and begin their journey to become adults1.

Nymphs go through four developmental stages, known as nymphal stages2. In the early stages (1st-3rd instars), they have black bodies, legs, and bright white spots. They’re a few millimeters in length and grow to around 1/4 inch as they age1. These young nymphs are strong jumpers, showcasing this ability when prodded or frightened1.

As nymphs progress to the 4th instar, their appearance transforms. Their bodies acquire a red coloring in addition to the black and white spots they already have. Once they reach the final nymphal stage, they’re not long away from becoming adults2.

Adult Spotted Lanternflies might look like moths when their wings are spread, but they’re actually planthoppers belonging to the order Hemiptera, making them more closely related to cicadas, brown marmorated stink bugs, aphids, and leafhoppers2. The entire life cycle of the Spotted Lanternfly takes roughly one year, with adults living long enough to mate and lay eggs before dying2.

In summary, the Spotted Lanternfly’s life cycle consists of the following stages:

  • Egg masses: Laid by females on various surfaces, protected by a muddy-looking substance.
  • Nymphs: Hatch from eggs, go through four nymphal stages, starting with black bodies, legs, and white spots, then progressing to a red, black, and white appearance.
  • Adults: Resemble moths when wings are spread, but are actually planthoppers related to cicadas and other Hemiptera insects.

By understanding the life cycle of the Spotted Lanternfly, you can better identify and manage this invasive species.

Origin and Spread

The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to countries like China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In 2014, it was first detected in Pennsylvania. Since then, it has spread to nearby states, posing a threat to agriculture and tourism.

Infestations have been reported mainly in the eastern United States, including states like Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and even as far south as North Carolina. People can accidentally spread these insects by moving infested materials or items with egg masses, leading to their spread over long distances.

Damage caused by Spotted Lanternflies:

  • Feeding on a wide range of fruit, ornamental, and woody trees.
  • Attacking over 70 woody plant species.
  • Causing significant harm to industries such as agriculture and tourism.

If you come across a Spotted Lanternfly, it’s essential to report it and help stop its spread by destroying it. You can contact Penn State Extension or USDA APHIS for assistance and advice on how to eliminate these invasive pests. By being aware and taking action, you can help protect your local environment and economy from the damage caused by Spotted Lanternflies.

Identification

The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive planthopper native to China, India, and Vietnam, first detected in the US in 20141. To identify this pest, it’s important to pay attention to its unique characteristics, such as white spots and appearance on tree bark.

The Spotted Lanternfly has several stages of development, but its most distinguishing features can be observed in the adult stage2. Adult lanternflies are characterized by:

  • Wings: Grayish wings with black spots and hints of blue.
  • Hind wings: Bright red with black spots, transitioning to black with white bands.
  • Body: Yellowish with black bands.

Additionally, they are often found on tree bark3, especially on tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), one of their preferred hosts. When feeding on trees, they can cause damage to tree bark, and the presence of their egg masses also signals an infestation.

In order to successfully identify a Spotted Lanternfly, make sure to look for these distinct features. Stay vigilant, as early detection and reporting can help prevent the further spread of this invasive species.

Environmental Impact

Spotted lanternflies pose a significant threat to ecosystems and the environment. These invasive insects, native to China, India, and Vietnam, have been causing damage in the United States since their discovery in Pennsylvania in 2014. They feast on a wide range of plants and trees, including tree-of-heaven, maples, and other economically important plants.

Feeding on these plants, spotted lanternflies excrete a sugar-rich waste substance called honeydew. This substance stimulates the growth of sooty mold, a black fungus that coats leaves and branches. The black sooty mold weakens the plants by blocking sunlight, which leads to dieback and sometimes the death of the affected plants.

You might be concerned about how this insect could impact agriculture and forestry industries. Spotted lanternflies are known to attack over 70 woody plant species and could contribute to losses in crop production, tree health, and overall environmental balance.

To put their potential damage into perspective, the emerald ash borer, another invasive insect, has cost billions of dollars in damages to ash trees throughout North America. The spotted lanternfly’s diverse appetite and rapid spread may cause even greater harm, affecting various industries and the environment.

In conclusion, the spotted lanternfly’s impact on the environment can be detrimental to various ecosystems and economic sectors. Efforts to control and prevent the spread of these invasive insects are crucial to preserving and maintaining environmental balance.

Economic Impact

The Spotted Lanternfly has a significant effect on the economy, mainly through its impact on agriculture. For instance, it has been estimated that if uncontrolled, this invasive species could cost Pennsylvania’s economy at least $324 million annually and lead to the loss of around 2,800 jobs.

Some of the most affected agricultural products include:

  • Hops
  • Fruit crops
  • Grapevines

For example, grapevines are particularly susceptible, as the Spotted Lanternfly damages them, leading to decreased vineyard yield and quality.

Quarantine measures become necessary to control the spread of this invasive pest. If you are located within a quarantine zone, you’re required to acquire a permit to move certain materials or items. This adds regulatory and logistical burdens to businesses operating within these areas.

Although quarantines help slow down the spread, it’s difficult to completely prevent the Spotted Lanternfly from reaching new areas. The efforts to manage this invasive species create economic costs in terms of resource allocation towards control measures, as well as the potential loss of revenue from affected agricultural products.

Remember, it’s crucial to stay informed, follow quarantine guidelines, and help limit the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly to mitigate its economic impact on your region.

Preferred Hosts

Spotted Lanternflies are invasive insects that feed on the sap of a variety of plants and trees. In particular, they have a strong preference for the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), an invasive species itself.

While they favor the Tree of Heaven, these pests also target other hosts. You might find them on over 100 species of plants, such as grapevines, maples, and black walnut. This extensive host range makes them a major concern for the agriculture and forestry industries.

When feeding, the Spotted Lanternfly can cause significant damage to the host plants. Here are some examples of their impact:

  • Reduced fruit production in grapevines
  • Weakened, stressed trees, and increased vulnerability to diseases

Thankfully, you can take steps to help stop the spread of Spotted Lanternflies. Be vigilant and report any sightings so professionals can address infestations and protect our valuable plant resources. Stay friendly to the environment by monitoring your surroundings and avoiding the transport of these invasive pests.

Interactions with Other Species

The spotted lanternfly poses a significant threat to various plant species and can impact different organisms within its ecosystem. One noteworthy interaction is with ants and wasps. The lanternfly produces honeydew, a sweet substance that attracts these insects. As a result, you may notice an increase in ants and wasps when spotted lanternflies are present.

Your garden’s pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, may also be affected by the presence of spotted lanternflies. These invasive pests feed on the sap of more than 70 woody plant species, potentially reducing the availability of nectar and pollen sources for your beloved pollinators.

When it comes to firewood, you need to be cautious. Spotted lanternflies can lay their egg masses on firewood, so it is crucial to inspect any wood before transporting or storing it. This way, you can help prevent the spread of these harmful insects.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning grasshoppers. While grasshoppers and spotted lanternflies may coexist, they have different feeding habits. Grasshoppers are generalists, consuming various plants, while spotted lanternflies are more specialized, targeting specific plant species.

To summarize:

  • Spotted lanternflies produce honeydew, which attracts ants and wasps.
  • Pollinators may be affected by the reduced availability of nectar and pollen sources due to spotted lanternflies feeding on woody plants.
  • Inspect firewood for egg masses to prevent the spread of these pests.
  • Grasshoppers have different feeding habits, so they may coexist but not directly compete with spotted lanternflies.

Signs of Infestation

When it comes to a spotted lanternfly infestation, there are several key signs to look out for. Firstly, the presence of the lanternfly itself is a clear indication of a possible infestation. The insects tend to gather in large numbers, often clustering on tree trunks, branches, and leaves. Keep an eye out for their unique appearance, with their spotted wings and bright red underwings.

Some common signs of a spotted lanternfly infestation include:

  • Oozing: The insects feed on plant sap, which can cause the affected plants to start oozing a clear, sticky substance called honeydew.
  • Wilting: Infested plants may begin to wilt, as the lanternflies sap their strength and nutrients.
  • Excrement: Spotted lanternflies produce large amounts of excrement, which can build up on surfaces nearby. This waste may lead to the growth of sooty mold, which appears as a dark, powdery substance.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to take action right away. A spotted lanternfly infestation can cause significant damage to your plants, trees, and crops. Swift intervention can help prevent the insects from spreading further and causing more harm.

By being proactive and paying attention to these warning signs, you can identify and address any potential infestations quickly and efficiently, protecting your plants and saving yourself a lot of stress in the process.

Prevention and Control Methods

To help protect against the invasive Spotted Lanternfly, it’s essential to know effective prevention and control methods.

Monitoring and Reporting: The first step in controlling the Spotted Lanternfly is monitoring and reporting any sightings. If you spot one, report it to the Penn State Extension hotline. Also, keep an eye on your surroundings, especially on tree-of-heaven, one of their preferred hosts.

Killing Eggs and Lanternflies: Scrape off any egg masses you find and destroy them. Use rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill individual adult lanternflies. Dispose of them properly too, reducing the chance of spreading the infestation.

Trapping: Deploy sticky bands around tree trunks to catch nymphs and adults climbing up and down. Change them regularly to prevent other creatures from getting trapped.

Insecticides: Systemic insecticides can be effective in controlling the Spotted Lanternfly. However, make sure you follow the product’s instructions and safety measures, as misuse can harm the environment.

Neem Oil and Home Pest Control: Neem oil is an organic option for treating infested plants. You can also hire a pest control company for professional assistance.

Preventive Measures:

  • Inspect vehicles, gear, and clothing for hitchhiking lanternflies when traveling.
  • Remove any tree-of-heaven on your property to limit potential habitats.
  • Use pesticides according to local regulations to avoid harm to non-target organisms.

Remember, a combination of these methods may be needed to effectively control Spotted Lanternflies in your area. Be vigilant and take action to protect your crops and local ecosystem from this invasive species.

Spotted Lanternfly and Human Interactions

The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive insect native to China, India, and Vietnam, first detected in the US in 2014 source. When interacting with humans, these insects can have various implications on items like furniture, vehicles, and more. We’re going to explore some of these interactions.

Due to their nature, Spotted Lanternflies may lay eggs on objects used by people, such as:

  • Furniture: Outdoor furniture may attract Spotted Lanternflies due to its potential proximity to host plants.
  • Vehicles: Cars, trucks, and other vehicles parked outdoors can become a landing spot for these insects to lay their eggs.
  • Mowers and Lawn Equipment: Since these are often stored outside, they’re at risk of becoming egg-laying sites.
  • Grills: Being outdoors and near trees or plants makes grills susceptible to encounters with the Spotted Lanternfly.
  • Stones: Landscaping and garden stones can also provide a suitable surface for egg deposition.
  • Pets: While not a common occurrence, pets like dogs and cats may inadvertently transport lanternflies or their eggs on their fur or collars.

It’s crucial to check these items periodically, especially if you’re transporting them between locations. Inspecting and cleaning the items before moving them can help prevent the spread of Spotted Lanternflies.

Besides laying eggs on objects, Spotted Lanternflies could cause damages to your plants due to their feeding habits. For example:

  • They feed on sap from a wide range of plants and trees, weakening the hosts and making them more susceptible to diseases.
  • Their feeding can lead to a build-up of waste called honeydew, which promotes mold growth and attracts other pests.

When dealing with a Spotted Lanternfly infestation, it’s essential to take appropriate measures. Some recommended actions include:

  • Regular inspections of your property, including trees, plants, and outdoor items.
  • Properly disposing of infested items or treating them with appropriate insecticides.

By understanding Spotted Lanternflies and taking necessary precautions, you can help reduce their impact on your property and the environment.

Role of the Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture plays a crucial role in managing and controlling the Spotted Lanternfly. They collaborate with extension specialists, researchers, and other agencies to develop effective strategies for dealing with this invasive species.

For example, they work on educating the public about the Spotted Lanternfly and its potential threats to agriculture, forests, and even residential landscapes. They also help create guidelines for effective management techniques, including using pesticides safely and responsibly.

Another aspect of their work involves enforcing the quarantine regulations in affected areas to prevent the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly. They collaborate with other agencies to monitor and track the insects’ movements to take prompt action to eliminate them.

As part of their collaboration, the Department of Agriculture provides support for research efforts to better understand the Spotted Lanternfly’s biology, behavior, and potential control methods. In addition, they fund and participate in training programs for extension specialists to ensure that the latest research findings and best management practices are disseminated effectively.

In conclusion, the Department of Agriculture plays a vital role in the battle against the Spotted Lanternfly, working closely with various stakeholder groups to develop and implement effective strategies to protect agriculture and natural resources from this invasive species.

Footnotes

  1. Penn State Extension – Spotted Lanternfly: What to Look For 2 3 4

  2. CALS – Spotted Lanternfly Biology and Lifecycle 2 3 4 5

  3. (https://home.nps.gov/articles/000/spotted-lanternfly.htm)

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs in Pennsylvania

 

Subject:  Black bugs with white spots on pepper plants
Geographic location of the bug:  Reading, PA
Date: 06/15/2018
Your letter to the bugman:  I am finding these bugs all over my tomato and pepper plants. They are also all over the front of my house. I can’t seem to find them online. Could you identify them
How you want your letter signed:  Ron Zeiber

Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs

Dear Ron,
The moment we read your subject line, we surmised you are being troubled by immature Spotted Lanternflies,
Lycorma delicatula, and your image proved us correct.  The Spotted Lanternfly is an Invasive Exotic species first reported in North America in 2014.  According to BugGuide:  “Native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam; invasive in Korea and in our area(1). Currently (2018) known from 6 counties in PA; also found in DE, NY, VA.”  According to the Government of Canada website:  “The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) is an impressive and colourful insect native to Asia, and has been recognised as a potential threat to the grape, fruit tree and forestry industries in Canada. It was first detected in North America in Pennsylvania in September 2014. As it is not known to exist in Canada, spotted lanternfly was added to the regulated pest list in 2018 in an effort to prevent the introduction from infested areas. Early detection activities would make managing the pest easier due to the discovery of this insect in the United States and the volume of articles potentially carrying the insect arriving from Asia. It can be distinguished from all other native and naturalized insects (such as planthoppers, moths) in Canada by its unique colouration. “

Letter 2 – Spotted Lanternfly sighted in Pennsylvania

 

Subject: Unidentified Beetle
Location: Northern edge of Pottstown, PA
July 16, 2017 9:47 am
Sort of a weevil shaped insect, bright red/orange and black with bright white spots on body and legs.
I’ve never seen one of these before, and can’t find one on the web searching several sites. Do you know what it is? Since I can’t find it in searches, wondering if it’s an introduced species. Found it on our deck post afternoon of July 15, 2017. My property has a small woods on two sides.
Signature: Olin Mittan

Immature Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Olin,
This is not a good sighting.  Years ago we identified this Asian creature as an immature White Cicada, and upon searching BugGuide records, we learned it is called a Spotted Lanternfly and “native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam; invasive in Korea and in our area (PA; confirmed in Berks Co. Sep 2014)” and “SIGHTING REPORTS WANTED: Experts are working to delimit the current population and find new infestations of this species. Please report sightings on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture website.”

Immature Spotted Lanternfly

Thanks for the quick response.  It turns out that the spotted lanternfly is known to exist in my township, and I was simply unaware.  We are instructed simply to kill any we encounter, but I reported it none the less.
Had it now been for your site, and response, I would still be unaware of the threat.
Thanks again for your help.
Olin Mittan

Letter 3 – Spotted Lanternfly Nymph

 

Subject:  Bug on my strawberries
Geographic location of the bug:  Bethlehem Pennsylvania
Date: 06/08/2019
Time: 12:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this? All over my plant
How you want your letter signed:  Sandy

Spotted Lanternfly Nymph

Dear Sandy,
We regret that we bear bad news.  This is an immature Spotted Lanternfly,
Lycorma delicatula, an invasive exotic species from Asia that is spreading in and beyond Pennsylvania since its recent introduction in 2014.  According to BugGuide:  “Native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam; invasive in Korea and in our area(1). Currently (2018) known from 6 counties in PA; also found in DE, NY, VA.” 

Thank you for this information.  A neighbor had to take down a tree last summer from these pests.  They were all over the area. I had called a hotline number and they were aware they were in our area. Not sure what is being done. I kill them when I see one.
Thanks again.

Letter 4 – Lanternflies from Malaysia

 

Rhinoceros cicada
Location: Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
July 10, 2011 7:58 pm
Hi,
I took a photo of this pair of ’rhinoceros cicadas’ in Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia in 2005. Any idea what they are? Rhinoceros cicada, was what our guide called them, but that doesn’t help much!
Thanks
Signature: Miles

Fulgorid Planthoppers

Hi Miles,
These are Fulgorid Planthoppers in the family Fulgoridae, commonly called Lanternflies.  They are related to Cicadas, so Rhinoceros Cicada might be a local name that we hadn’t heard before.

Letter 5 – Lanternfly

 

okay smarty pants.. name this insect!
Here’s another insect I found with no information…
any idea? BTW – i didn’t kill these bugs, I’m jsut doing a project on them.. and need some information about them… even just the name of it’ll will help.
-m-

Hi -m-,
We were intrigued by your cocky challenge. This is one of the Fulgorid Planthoppers sometimes known as Lanternflies. We suspect this is an exotic species from the tropics. Now, Smarty Pants, where is it from? We are also going to turn to Eric Eaton to substantiate our identification.

Letter 6 – Lanternfly

 

please tell me what it is
Dear Sir or Madam,
Please kindly check the name of the bug for me. Thanks
Gary

Hi Gary,
This is a Lantenfly. We cannot tell you anything more specific as you did not tell us where it was photographed.

Letter 7 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Northeastern United States (Pennsylvania)
January 27, 2017 4:39 pm
I took this picture on my way to an appointment. I have looked through numerous books and haven’t been able to find out what it is.
Signature: -Future Scientist

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Future Scientist,
If you were searching guidebooks of native species, you would not find this Spotted Lanternfly,
Lycorma delicatula, a species native to China.  Though we immediately recognized it, the reason is that we have received submissions for years from Korea where it has been introduced and where it is sometimes called a White Cicada.  We were not aware it had been found in North America, and according to BugGuide:  “Confirmed in Berks County, PA, in Sept. 2014.”  BugGuide also recommends:  “SIGHTING REPORTS WANTED: Entomologists are working to delimit the current population and discover any new infestations of this potentially destructive species. If you have seen this insect, please report your sighting using one of the methods provided on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website.”  Since it is the middle of winter, we suspect this is not a recent sighting for you.

Letter 8 – Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania

 

Subject:  unidentified bug
Geographic location of the bug:  SE Penna, deciduous woods
Date: 09/05/2017
Time: 05:01 PM EDT
saw this guy on a deck at a house in the woods, mid-day
How you want your letter signed:  tony ryan

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Tony,
The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive exotic species from Asia that has become established in Pennsylvania.  The bright red, spotted nymphs are quite distinctive.  According to BugGuide:  “SIGHTING REPORTS WANTED: Experts are working to delimit the current population and find new infestations of this species. Please report sightings on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture website.  earliest NA record: PA 2014.”

Letter 9 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject:  What’s this pretty bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Allentown PA
Date: 09/10/2017
Time: 10:35 AM EDT
I saw this beetle perched on a car bumper in a parking lot. As I got close to take the picture, the insect departed the number with an amazing vertical velocity! It’s leg joints look almost machine like. Is it a drone – lol? Appreciate your help identifying it!
How you want your letter signed:  Tom M

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Tom,
This is an Invasive Exotic Spotted Lanternfly, a species recently introduced to North America from Asia.  At this time, its spread has only been reported from Pennsylvania.  According to BugGuide:  “SIGHTING REPORTS WANTED: Experts are working to delimit the current population and find new infestations of this species. Please report sightings on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture website.  earliest NA record: PA 2014.”

Letter 10 – Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject:  I.D
Geographic location of the bug:  Brenigsville , Pa.
Date: 10/11/2017
Time: 04:11 PM EDT
Working in a development, storm water basin . Haven’t been  able to identify  so far . Is it native or invasive?
How you want your letter signed:  Andy

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Andy,
Alas, this is an invasive, exotic Spotted Lanternfly,
Lycorma delicatula.  According to BugGuide:  “native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam; invasive in Korea and in our area (PA)(1); currently (2017) known from 4 counties in PA” and “SIGHTING REPORTS WANTED: Experts are working to delimit the current population and find new infestations of this species. Please report sightings on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture website.  earliest NA record: PA 2014.”

Spotted Lanternfly

Letter 11 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly feeds on Ailanthus

 

Hi Daniel,
Just spotted this (so to speak) on Daily Kos: a Chinese lanternfly that has turned up in Pennsylvania, which feeds on Ailanthus.
Full detailed, informative, article here: https://tinyurl.com/ydeb2fma
And here’s a pic of the critter from that post:

Thought What’s That Bug might be interested.
Best Wishes,
Julian P. Donahue

Spotted Lanternfly

Thanks Julian,
WTB? has gotten about five reports of Spotted Lanternflies or White Cicadas from Pennsylvania in the past year.  The oldest posting is from January 2017.

We did not know they fed on ailanthus.  unfortunately, we do not believe their diet is limited to Ailanthus.  Even if that were the case, we doubt they would have much effect on that invasive tree.  The Daily Kos states:  “Both nymphs and adult SLF cause damage when they feed, sucking sap from stems and leaves. The adult SLF prefers the invasive tree of heaven (
Ailanthus altissima) as its primary host. The nymph stages will use numerous plants as hosts.”

Letter 12 – More Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs in Pennsylvania

 

Subject:  Black insect with white spots
Geographic location of the bug:  Southeastern Pennsylvania
Date: 06/20/2018
Time: 03:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found these on my azalea. We live in the woods and have never seen anything like it. It doesn’t seem to have a hard shell like a beetle but maybe it’s in the early stages of life.
How you want your letter signed:  Nikki

Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs

Dear Nikki,
These are Spotted Lanternfly nymphs, an invasive species recently introduced from Asia.

Comment from Annette on Facebook:  OP, you need to report this. I don’t condone killing insects, but this one is a threat to our state. Google what to do if you find spotted lanternfly.

Update:  Report sightings to Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Thank you for the quick response! I’ve seen them in their full grown state and should’ve figured it was them with the spots. I’ll take care of the destroying and reporting. Have a great day!

Letter 13 – Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania

 

Subject:  Bug (moth?) identification
Geographic location of the bug:  SE Pennsylvania
Date: 08/27/2018
Time: 11:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have never seen this bug before in our yard and I would appreciate if you can identify it.
Thank you
How you want your letter signed:  Andrei N.

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Andrei,
This is an invasive Spotted Lanternfly,
Lycorma delicatula, a species introduced to Pennsylvania from Asia several years ago.  According to BugGuide:  “Native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam; invasive in Korea and in our area. Currently (2018) known from 6 counties in PA; also found in DE, NY, VA” and “SIGHTING REPORTS WANTED: Experts are working to delimit the current population and find new infestations of this species. Please report sightings on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture website.  earliest NA record: PA 2014.”  This is a winged adult.  Nymphs are wingless and may have bright red coloration.  You should report your sighting to help prevent the Spotted Lanternfly from spreading further in North America.  

Spotted Lanternfly

Hello Daniel,
Thank you. I will alert the PA Dept. of Agriculture.
Andrei

Letter 14 – Spotted Lanternfly in Lucite

 

Subject:  Bug Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Unknown
Date: 01/25/2019
Time: 02:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Sir,
I have many bugs in resin, that I would like to be identified. If this is possible that would be great. The bugs vary from scorpions to beetles, from flies to crickets. I do have more bugs to identify, however only three images could be attached, if you could contact me and then I will be able to attach the other images. If more images are required please contact me. Thank you very much.
How you want your letter signed:  Best Regards, George.

Spotted Lanternfly in Lucite

Dear George,
In most cases, we have an ethical opposition to the trade in insects preserved in lucite, but we are especially intrigued by one of your images that appears to be a Spotted Lanternfly,
Lycorma delicatula, an invasive, exotic species that was recently accidentally introduced to Pennsylvania about five years ago, and has since become a significant concern as a threat to the agriculture industry as well as to home gardeners.  We have no ethical opposition to capturing invasive species and embedding them in lucite to sell as curios to raise money to help fight the spread of this and other non-native species that become established, often threatening native species.

Dear Mr.Marlos,
Thank you for the reply, and the help in identifying an insect. I was also just wondering why are you opposed to this, because I do like keeping insects and animals, I have a tortoise and I have owned frogs and millipedes, and I just want to know the reasons. Thanks so much for your reply.
Best Regards, George.
George Evans
Dear George,
We have a similar reaction on a much greater scale when we see big game hunters with their trophies.  We would prefer to see living beasts than to see antelope heads mounted on walls or tiger skin rugs in front of fireplaces.  Collectors will spend high sums for rare species, which leads to poaching.  There is a book called Winged Obsession about butterfly smuggling.  Most cheap trinkets of insects embedded in lucite do not fall into the endangered species category, but our issues stem more from people who collect because of the desire to own pretty things to display rather than to collect specimens for scientific research.

Letter 15 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject:  Weird looking bug that grey and pink.
Geographic location of the bug:  Washinton,Pa
Date: 04/29/2019
Time: 09:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Finally found out what this bug is! A spotted lanternfly,an invasive Asian insect that is quarantined in Eastern,Pa now!
How you want your letter signed:  Maurice

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Maurice,
You are correct.  This is an invasive Spotted Lanternfly and it is nice to remind our readers from Pennsylvania to watch out for infestations.

Letter 16 – Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject:  Stumped me!
Geographic location of the bug:  Poconos, PA
Date: 10/21/2019
Time: 07:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I’m the go-to bug identification nerd for friends and family; if I don’t know them outright, I can almost always track them down on What’s That Bug. This one, though, evades me. Any chance you can help out? this is the only photo  they got. Thanks very much.
How you want your letter signed:  Rob W.

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Rob,
This is an invasive, exotic Spotted Lanternfly
Lycorma delicatula, and according to BugGuide:  “Native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam; invasive in Korea and in our area” and “earliest NA record: PA 2014.”

Letter 17 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject:  What is This
Geographic location of the bug:  Newark, NJ
Date: 08/11/2021
Time: 09:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I’ve been here all my life and can’t imagine what this is.
How you want your letter signed:  Northern non bug lover

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Northern non bug lover,
This is an invasive Spotted Lanternfly, not a species to love.  The Spotted Lanternfly is native to Asia and according to BugGuide:  “earliest NA record: PA 2014” and since then it has been reported in five states in addition to Pennsylvania.  Your New Jersey sighting is not the first, and there are also sightings in New York, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.  Indications are that it will continue to spread.  Though it has not yet been reported there, the Missouri Department of Conservation states:  “The spotted lanternfly feeds on over 70 plant species, many of which are native to Missouri. SLF feeding activity can weaken plants, resulting in decline or even death. This invasive pest has the potential to damage Missouri native plants and forests.

As they feed on tree-of-heaven, spotted lanternflies may acquire chemicals from the plant that make them distasteful or toxic to predators.
In its native regions on the other side of the world — southern China, Taiwan, and Vietnam — the spotted lanternfly’s numbers are kept in check by predators and diseases.”

 

Letter 18 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly in New Jersey

 

Subject:  Moth in NJ
Geographic location of the bug:  Central New Jersey, USA
Date: 08/17/2021
Time: 10:14 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi WtB,
I’ve been hanging out with this moth recently, but have not been able to identify it after looking through lists of moths native to the area, hoping you can help me out.
Location: New Jersey, USA
Season:   Summer (early August)
Thank you so much for your work!!
How you want your letter signed:  Friend of Moth

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Friend of Moth,
Alas, this is not a Moth.  It is a Spotted Lanternfly, a recently introduced invasive species from Asia.

Letter 19 – Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

 

Subject:  Large shy cicada-like insect with pretty spots
Geographic location of the bug:  Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Date: 09/07/2021
Time: 03:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was waiting at a bus stop when suddenly this large-ish (1.25″ approx) flew in front of me and landed on a wall. While it was flying I could see its (second set of wings? thorax?) was bright red with white spots, which you can get a peek of in the third picture.
After it landed, I kept trying to get pictures, but it was shy and kept crawling away, and then my bus came so that was that.
It had bright orange eyes and a head/body shape that made me think it was a cicada, but its outer wings are opaque and covered in spots and stripes, and I thought cicadas all had clear wings. It crawled and moved a bit like a cicada too. Something in the same family?
Thanks for any help!
How you want your letter signed:  Jarrett

Spotted Lanternfly

Dear Jarrett,
According to BugGuide, the invasive Spotted Lanternfly was first reported in North America in 2014, but as early as 2010 we reported it as an invasive species from China introduced to South Korea and at that time White Cicada was a common name more popularly used than it is now.  Thuogh it is not a true Cicada, the Spotted Lanternfly is in the same insect order as Cicadas, True Bugs and Treehoppers. 

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

74 thoughts on “Spotted Lanternfly: All You Need to Know for a Bug-Free Life”

  1. I’m in shillington pa. I have swarms in my back yard and along my bank. Trimming my trees alone I ran ove a few hundred with the lawnmower mulching trimmings

    Reply
  2. WE have a honeydew infestation problem that is out of this world
    Totally eval… The lantern fly looks close to what WE see but the only way to see our buggy boes is with a diamond scope. They look like a piece of lint – dust – pepper- ranging from white to dark. I believe it came in with the honeydew secretion
    I have no idea what I’m up against.

    .

    Reply
  3. WE have a honeydew infestation problem that is out of this world
    Totally eval… The lantern fly looks close to what WE see but the only way to see our buggy boes is with a diamond scope. They look like a piece of lint – dust – pepper- ranging from white to dark. I believe it came in with the honeydew secretion
    I have no idea what I’m up against.

    .

    Reply
  4. This past summer, not knowing about the bugs, I had a swarm of white cicada,(that is the name under the red bug shown in this page. I didn’t see them land but saw maybe 50-70 on a branch of my river birch. I sprayed them and some fell off. I then cut the branch off and placed it and the Cicada in a plastic bag, sprayed in the bag an placed it in the trash.

    Reply
  5. Hi Maurice,
    Thanks for sharing it. Was the spotted lanternfly (SLF) found last year and you just took a picture recently? Usually adults will only been seen after August? Thanks

    Reply
  6. Hi Maurice,
    Thanks for sharing it. Was the spotted lanternfly (SLF) found last year and you just took a picture recently? Usually adults will only been seen after August? Thanks

    Reply
  7. I live in Buckingham , Bucks county and my grandson and I were clearing up some brush by our back deck and we saw 3 of them and one was crawling up my back and my grandson brushed it off and I think we terminated the other two .
    Kenny

    Reply
  8. I live in Buckingham , Bucks county and my grandson and I were clearing up some brush by our back deck and we saw 3 of them and one was crawling up my back and my grandson brushed it off and I think we terminated the other two .
    Kenny

    Reply
  9. I have something similar but no red. All black with white dots. Found them on fig tree and roses. I’m in Bethlehem, PA. Could these be lantern flies as well?

    Reply
  10. I spend a lot of time on the waterfront trail in South Philadelphia, and see these all over this summer, and had never seen them before. Nice to finally know what they are.

    Reply
  11. Just spotted a few hundred on my vine in Doylestown Pennsylvania. I will be doing some research today on how to rid my hops as naturally as possible from these pests. However, do I recall that you are not supposed to kill them?

    Reply
    • While we do not provide extermination advice, we do support the control of invasive species like the Spotted Lanternfly.

      Reply
  12. Sorry to hear that Alice. To follow up on my situation: I treated my hop vines with Dawn Dish soap solution. Although the majority of the numbers were terminated, my vins turned brown and shriveled up. Now I am cutting down the Hoppes section by section and squeezing any remaining nymphs as I go. I would rather lose this crop of hops than these things turn into adults and fly away to kill trees. Best luck to all.

    Reply
  13. Hi, I also have them in Norristown, Pa. thank you for identifying them bugman. Maybe to try some google advice on spotted lantern nymphs. Neem oil, vinegar?

    Reply
  14. Just this week (July 4), I have seen these bugs. They are both red-and-white-spotted and black-and-white spotted. I have only seen them on them on my concrete decks (front and back) and my stone walls. It is hard to swap them, because they hop. Most of the time, I am able to step on them. Is there any bug spray that can the used to kill them?

    Reply
  15. Found out these are lantern flies. I’ve been using DE with some success. I’m also hearing Dawn dish detergent may work too.

    Reply
  16. I just saw a black one with white spots yesterday in Chester County near Delaware state line. It was walking on my gerber daisy. After I saw a post about the lanternfly I went to look for it and could not find it. Does it destroy trees and plants?

    Reply
    • They are considered an invasive species that will most likely have negative agricultural and horticultural ramifications in their new range.

      Reply
  17. I tried using Dawn dish detergent in a spray bottle with a water/Dawn ratio of about 5:1. Sprayed a couple dozen of the flies late yesterday and they clearly did not like it. Today there were only two of them, so I hit them with the spray. 🙂

    Reply
  18. I found one of these on my back deck today (7-13-20). It was crawling on my grill. I live in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

    Reply
  19. I spotted these in both northeastern Philadelphia, PA, and East Norriton, PA. They seem to suck the life out of my plants. WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?????

    Reply
  20. For as many years I’ve been gardening (4 years at my present home,) this month is the first time I’ve seen these all over my vegetable garden. I am getting overwhelmed with the Brood X and now these little pests.

    Reply
  21. We have a ton of them on our back deck, all over my raised garden(tomato’s, cucumbers, and peppers). They are also all over the back side of my townhouse. We live in Winchester Va

    Reply
  22. Lawrenceville NJ.. I spotted one in my garden a couple of days ago, and just now decided to do a search … I tried to kill it but failed as it disappeared into the thick undergrowth.

    Reply
  23. I spotted one on my deck plant today (7-4-22), identified it from my computer, but was unable to kill it before it flew away. –L.

    Reply
  24. New castle De, didn’t know what the infants looked like until this year (yes I saw them last year and the internet said not harmful) treated trees for adults last year. I have seen infants and immature “spider/flies” this year

    Reply
  25. July 2022. Found one on tomatoe plant in queens,NY. Wish I had killed it. Didn’t know what it was. Will go a hunting for it. I’ll try the dawn dish spray.

    Reply
  26. I live in Aberdeen Maryland. I have a tree infested with these bugs flies whatever they are . How do I kill or get rid of them? Does anyone know extermination procedures What’s tomorrow

    Reply
  27. I see these bugs all around , Are they harmful to people animals or plants? Where would I find more information on them?

    Reply
  28. I’ve been watching one at my house in Aliquippa PA. Too big to be a tick, has a long distance jump. Only has six legs, so not a spider. This is the first time I’ve found identification to it. The thing keeps finding me and climbing on me. It’s beautiful… But is it dangerous? They eat ants, you know?

    Reply
  29. I live in Delaware next to Mc Kenny Church Road and these things are all over especially on my grapevines what can I use to kill these things.. they have killed my rosebush now they’re on all my trees had to have one tree cut in half..

    Reply
  30. They love sappy trees and plants. maple trees and grape vines are some examples. I’ve heard of people targeting where they are largely condensed and scraping them into a bucket of rubbing alcohol or some solution that can kill them.

    Reply

Leave a Comment