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Be On the Lookout for this Invasive Species

The Economic Effect could be Devastating


The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to China and was first detected in the US in 2014. It is thought to have arrived in shipping crates. The spotted lanternfly feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental, and woody trees. These bugs are bad — bad for our backyards, our native ecosystem, and our economy.

Spotted Lanternflies Can Impact the Economy

Spotted lanternflies are invasive and can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. If allowed to spread in the United States, this pest could seriously impact the country’s grape, orchard, and logging industries.

Spotted lanternfly populations are currently found in 11 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. But even in the southern states, experts warn people to “be on the lookout” for this invasive species.

An invasive pest with a healthy appetite for plants like grapevines, hops and other fruit crops and trees, the spotted lanternfly feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, piercing the plant stems and tree bark, thus depleting the plant’s energy reserves and costing hundreds of millions of dollars annually in lost agriculture.

Are Spotted Lanternflies Dangerous to Children and Pets?

Spotted lanternflies are not known to bite, sting, or attack people, pets or livestock. It is not known if Spotted lanternflies are poisonous when ingested by humans or animals.

Not All is as it Appears

This insect looks like a beautiful moth but can cause millions of dollars in damage. This insect does not fly. It hops and is known as a hitchhiker .

They are known to feed on over 70 different types of trees and plants. They cause millions of dollars worth of damage.

What is Being Done to Eliminate These Insects?

At the USDA Beneficial Insect Research Lab, located on the University of Delaware campus, researchers are searching for natural enemies of this exotic invasive pest.

The research teams have also started projects studying two natural enemies that help keep the lanternfly from being abundant in China, it's native home.

After extensive evaluation, and if shown to be host-specific, i.e. meaning they will not attack other native North American insects, and if granted regulatory permission, the enemy insects could eventually be released to fight lanternfly.

Where Do They Live and What Do I Do?

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:

Starting in the fall, Spotted Lanternflies seek out outdoor surfaces and lay mud-like egg masses on tree bark, outdoor gear, e.g. lawnmowers, bikes and grills, animal trailers, and more.

Spotted Lanternflies' egg masses are about an inch long and resemble a smear of mud. If found in an area known to have a spotted lanternfly population, residents should crush them and scrape them off. Travelers passing through spotted lanternfly quarantine areas should thoroughly check their vehicles, trailers and even the clothes they are wearing to avoid accidentally moving the spotted lanternfly from a quarantine area to somewhere new.

If you find this pest outside of a spotted lanternfly quarantine area, please take a picture of it and note the location to report it to your State Department of Agriculture before killing it.

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