Learn about the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), and what action you can take to stop the spread of this invasive insect that is threatening the northeastern United States, especially southeastern Pennsylvania.
Call our hotline at 1-888-422-3359 with questions on spotted lanternfly management or to report a sighting. You may also report a spotted lanternfly sighting from our website.
Lycorma delicatula, commonly known as the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), is a new invasive insect that has spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania since its discovery in Berks County in 2014. SLF presents a significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth nearly $18 billion to the state's economy.
Spotted Lanternfly Life Cycle
Obtain a Permit (for Businesses)
To stop the spread of spotted lanternfly, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine for counties where the presence of this pest has been confirmed. Businesses operating in the quarantine zone must have permits to move equipment and goods within and out of the zone. Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have developed this self-paced, online course to train designated employees how to comply with the quarantine.
Attend a Local Meeting
Penn State Extension is hosting public meetings throughout the state to provide information and updates regarding the threat of spotted lanternfly. Attend to learn more about this invasive pest, and how you can help control the impact to your community. Don't see a meeting coming up in your community? To request a spotted lanternfly public meeting, please contact your local Penn State Extension office.
Learn More About Spotted Lanternfly
The spotted lanternfly attacks fruit trees, but not the fruit itself. It uses its piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on the sap in trunks, branches, twigs and leaves. These oozing wounds will leave a greyish or black trail along the bark of the plant.
As it digests the sap, the insect excretes a substance known as honeydew that, along with sap from these weeping wounds, can attract bees and other insects. There may be a buildup of this sticky fluid on infested plants and on the ground below. The honeydew and sap also provide a medium for growth of fungi, such as sooty mold, which can cover leaf surfaces and stunt growth. Plants with heavy infestations may not survive.
Potentially at stake are Pennsylvania's grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, nursery and landscape industries, which generate agricultural crops and forest products worth nearly $18 billion annually. The insect also can cause damage to high-value ornamentals in home landscapes and can affect quality of life for residents.
Native to parts of Asia, spotted lanternfly was identified for the first time in the United States in Berks County in 2014. Since then, the pest has spread to a multicounty area in southeastern Pennsylvania, and sightings have been reported in some neighboring states.
To slow or stop the spread, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture imposed a quarantine regulating the movement of plants, plant-based materials and outdoor household items out of the quarantine area.
If you find spotted lanternfly, take action by using the resources below.
Spotted Lanternfly Frequently Asked Questions
Get the answers to the most frequently asked questions about spotted lanternfly, including their damage to plants, how to manage them on your property, and what you can do to help! If you have more questions, check out the other resources available on this page or contact your local extension agent.
A. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper (a type of insect) in the U.S. It is native to certain parts of Southeast Asia.
A. Spotted lanternflies feed on the sap of a plant and when there are high populations of them, they can cause significant damage. They feed on over 70+ plants, including important forestry and agricultural crops. Spotted lanternfly was first discovered in the United States in Berks County, PA in 2014. It has since spread throughout 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, which the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has designated as a spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. In 2017, spotted lanternfly was also found in Frederick County in Virginia. In 2018, three New Jersey counties (Mercer, Warren, and Hunterdon) were quarantined for spotted lanternfly.
A. Spotted lanternflies go through five stages of growth after hatching from eggs. The first four stages are called nymphs, which are incapable of flight. The young nymphs are black with bright white spots and are roughly the size of a pencil eraser. The next stages of growth are similar, but the nymphs become larger. The fourth stage of spotted lanternflies, prior to adulthood, is vibrantly red with distinct patches of black and equally distinct bright white spots. The adult spotted lanternfly is a leafhopper with wings about 1” long. Adults have grey wings with black spots. When the spotted lanternfly opens its wings, it reveals a bright red underwing. Spotted lanternflies live through the winter only as eggs. Adults lay eggs in masses in the late fall on trees, under bark, posts, lawn furniture, cars, trailers, outdoor grills, and on many other surfaces.Additional Resources
A. If you find a spotted lanternfly or a suspicious looking egg mass in a municipality where it is not known to exist, you should try to collect it and put it into a container filled with alcohol (rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, etc.) to kill and preserve it, or at least take a good picture of it. Report your sighting online to the Pennsylvania Department ofl Agriculture, or call Penn State Extension at 1-888-4BADFLY (1-888-422-3359). Your discovery could add additional municipalities to the quarantined area.If you find any life stage of spotted lanternfly in a municipality where it is already known to exist, you should try to destroy it.
A. In Korea, spotted lanternflies have had a major destructive impact on grapes, and grape-products such as wine. Spotted lanternflies have also reduced yields on important fruit-bearing trees and other plants. The spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 70 types of plants, including crops such as grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and other hardwood trees.
A. Real trees are part of an outdoor ecosystem, thus there is always a chance that insects may be brought indoors with a tree. With the spotted lanternfly currently an issue of concern, questions have been raised regarding the possibility of spotted lanternflies being carried into homes. Although unlikely spotted lanternfly eggs will be on Christmas trees, if they were to hatch indoors the nymphs pose no threat to humans or animals, and will die quickly. Christmas Tree growers follow integrated pest management practices to minimize such threats. If consumers are concerned they are encouraged to inspect the tree prior to purchase. Spotted lanternfly egg masses are visible on the bark if present and can be easily removed. Purchasing real Christmas trees benefits local growers and the local economy. They are also an environmentally friendly choice as Christmas trees are a renewable resource and can be easily recycled, unlike artificial trees. For those living inside the quarantine zone, we encourage trees to be disposed of by recycling programs where they will be shredded and composted or burned (if allowed by the municipality) and should not transported out of the quarantine zone.
A. Spotted lanternflies are not known to bite or sting or attack people, pets or livestock. And it is not known if spotted lanternflies are poisonous when ingested by humans or animals. But because of the damage spotted lanternflies do to agriculture and forestry products, they are a threat to the economic well-being of our state and its citizens.
A. The best thing any property owner can do is become informed about spotted lanternflies. By becoming informed, property owners can choose to remove and/or treat the Ailanthus (tree-of-heaven) trees on their properties, which attract the insects. In addition, property owners can reference our Spotted Lanternfly Management for Homeowners guide for using contact pesticides and treatments on a variety of trees and plants.
A. The quarantine for spotted lanternflies is an important legal designation. The citizens of municipalities under a quarantine order can follow simple directions to ensure that each citizen complies with the law. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantine order directs citizens and municipal authorities to follow guidelines to prevent the movement of spotted lanternflies at any stage of development. These guidelines direct citizens to inspect all wood and vegetation that might leave the quarantined municipality. In addition, these guidelines direct citizens to inspect vehicles, trailers, and other mobile equipment prior to moving such equipment out of the quarantine.
A. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducts ongoing and careful surveys of all of Pennsylvania. Department crews survey for evidence of spotted lanternflies using detailed visual and trapping methods. Once the department’s survey crews find evidence of spotted lanternflies in an area, the evidence is scientifically analyzed by both Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture entomologists and by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture. After this process, a township, borough, or city can be quarantined by the state department of agriculture.
A. From what we know, the spotted lanternfly is a significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, landscapes and natural ecosystems, including grape (where heavy damage has already been recorded), tree-fruit, hardwood, and nursery industries, which collectively are worth nearly $18 billion to the state's economy, as well as for outdoor recreation, backyard enjoyment, and biodiversity. The insect can also result in significant economic impacts from restrictions on commerce within quarantine zones.
A. The spotted lanternfly feeds through the bark using a piercing-sucking mouthpart tapped into the plant like a straw. When it feeds, it excretes honeydew, or sugary water on and around it’s feeding site. This encourages the growth of black sooty mold, which is not harmful to humans, but can damage plants and make outside recreation areas unusable.
A. No, the spotted lanternfly does not bite or sting.
A. Yes, fruit from the quarantine area is safe to eat. The spotted lanternfly feeds on the plant, not the fruit.
A. Some common insect predators such as spiders and praying mantises have been found to attack spotted lanternfly. However, this is not enough to reduce their population, and there are no other known natural enemies for this pest in the U.S.
A. Both the U.S. and Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture are working on control and eradication measures in the quarantine zone. Primarily, this involves removing their preferred host (an invasive plant called tree-of-heaven), and leaving “trap trees”, which are trees baited with insecticides to kill the spotted lanternflies.
A. There are few control options for homeowners. In the fall and winter, we recommend scraping egg masses. In the spring, we recommend banding highly infested trees with sticky tape, to trap the nymphs crawling up the trees to feed. For both nymphs and adults, insecticides can be used. Find out more information by downloading our Homeowner’s management guide.
A. Because spotted lanternflies lays eggs on almost any surface, including vehicles like rail cars and trailers, as well as outdoor equipment and patio furniture, the pest is easily spread by people. Before you travel within or out of the quarantine zone, check your belongings, yourself, and your vehicle for spotted lanternfly!
A. Both egg mass scraping and tree banding are effective control measures for organic operations. Currently, we have limited knowledge on the best organic insecticides to use against the spotted lanternflies. Azadiractin or insecticidal soaps – both organic compounds that are contact insecticides — can be used on spotted lanternfly nymphs and adults. This means the compounds must contact the spotted lanternflies directly to kill them. It can be applied directly to the nymphs or adults, or applied on surfaces where they walk and feed. When applying any pesticide, always read the label for application instructions and protective equipment.
A. Report your sightings of spotted lanternfly using our online reporting tool, or by calling 1-888-4BAD-FLY. Make sure you are not moving any life stage of spotted lanternfly when traveling within or out of the quarantine zone. And finally, tell your friends, family, and neighbors! The more you can spread awareness about the insect, the better chance we have against fighting it!
A. All businesses that are moving material within the quarantine zone or in and out of the quarantine zone in Pennsylvania are required to hold a spotted lanternfly permit. This permit ensures that the businesses and employees are checking for spotted lanternfly before they travel. For more information on the permit, please visit here.
Image Credit: Nick Sloff, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
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