An invasive pest native to Japan, China, India, Korea and Vietnam, the Spotted Lanternfly was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014. While it prefers to feed on Tree of Heaven, nymphs will feed on a wide range of species, including grape vines and fruit trees. Capable of traveling only short distances on its own, people moving infested materials have aided its rapid spread.
Adult Spotted Lanternflies are approximately 1 inch long and half an inch wide, with large and visually striking wings. Their forewings are light brown with black spots at the front and a speckled band at the rear. Their hind wings are scarlet with black spots at the front and white and black bars at the rear. Their abdomen is yellow with black bars. Nymphs in their early stages of development appear black with white spots and turn to a red phase before becoming adults. Egg masses are yellowish-brown in color, covered with a gray, waxy coating prior to hatching.
If you find an insect that you suspect is the Spotted Lanternfly, please contact your local Extension office or State Plant Regulatory Official to have the specimen identified properly.
Both nymphs and adults of spotted lanternfly cause damage when they feed, sucking sap from stems and leaves. This can reduce photosynthesis, weaken the plant, and eventually contribute to the plant’s death. In addition, feeding can cause the plant to ooze or weep, resulting in a fermented odor, and the insects themselves excrete large amounts of fluid (honeydew). These fluids promote mold growth and attract other insects.
Reference USDA APHIS
Photo credits Virginia Cooperative Extension