Female spotted lanternfly and her egg mass. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State
Description and life cycle
Adult hoppers have a black head and grayish wing with black spots. They are about 1 inch long. Flying adults will also display hind wings that are red at the base and black at the tip with a white stripe dividing them. The abdomen is bright to pale yellow with bands of black on the top and bottom surfaces. The female deposits 30-50 eggs in egg masses covered with a mud-like substance in late September to early October, usually on smooth bark, stone, and other vertical surfaces. The first instar nymphs are wingless, black with white spots. As the nymphs grow they develop red patches in addition to the white spots.
In Pennsylvania, the spotted lanternfly overwinters in egg masses. The first nymphs are normally observed in May while the adults usually appear in late July. Spotted lanternfly feeds on many plant species including grapes, fruit trees, and many wild hosts. In its native range the preferred host appears to be the tree of heaven/paradise tree (Ailanthus altisima) but is also frequently found on oaks, walnuts, poplars, willows, maples, birch and others. Spotted lanternfly has one generation per year.
Both nymphs and adults cause damage when they feed, sucking sap from stems and leaves. The feeding insects excrete large amounts of honeydew, promoting growth of mold and attracting other insects such as wasps, hornets, and ants.
In orchards, the management of other pests should also limit/eradicate the presence of this pest. Insecticides effective against brown marmorated stink bug should also be effective in protecting fruit trees against spotted lanternfly adults and nymphs.
Spotted lanternfly is under a quarantine to stop movement to new areas and to slow its spread within the quarantine zone.