The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive pest in the United States that was first detected in 2014 in Pennsylvania. It is a pest of numerous cultivated and wild hosts. It can cause serious damage to apples, grapes, stone fruit, landscape trees, and others and can be a nuisance pest in urban areas.
Is California at risk?
It is predicted that many agriculturally important regions in California are at a high risk if this pest ever invades the state. California climate and a wide host range including both cultivated and wild species can support the establishment and spread of the spotted lanternfly. The tree-of-heaven, which is a favorite host of the spotted lanternfly, is an invasive tree that is spread throughout California and can serve as a source of infestation.
Who should be concerned?
Apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, and roses are some of the commodities at risk in California that are valued at more than $7 billion. Spotted lanternfly is also a nuisance to the urban landscapes by infesting grapes, roses, and various species of trees.
What does this pest do?
Spotted lanternfly inserts its piercing and sucking mouthparts into plant tissues, feeds on nutrient-rich phloem sap, and produces large volumes of honeydew. Feeding depletes nutrients, reduces plant vigor, and yields. Sooty mold develops on honeydew and affects photosynthesis. Heavy infestations can kill the plant. When uncontrolled, populations build to hundreds or thousands on an individual plant.
What is its life cycle?
On the east coast, egg laying occurs in fall, nymphs start emerging in spring and mature to adults starting in summer. Eggs are covered by waxy protective material.
How to control spotted lanternfly?
Removing and destroying egg masses, applying biological and synthetic pesticides, and encouraging biocontrol agents are some of the control options. The first line of defense is to prevent its invasion and spread.
How can it get to California?
It can arrive as egg masses (mistaken for a splash of mud) or other life stages in/on packages, vehicles, and other inanimate objects moving from infested areas.
What should we do?
Since spotted lanternfly affects cultivated, landscape, and wild plants, both the farming community and the general public should be aware of it, its potential damage, and negative impact in California. All of us should be able to recognize the pest and report to the local agricultural commissioner or farm advisor offices.
This is a dynamic space various resources will be periodically added about this pest.
A quick overview of the spotted lanternfly biology, its damage to grapes, and potential control options (5 min)
A detailed overview of the spotted lanternfly, its damage, and control options (33 min)
Extension article in Pest News eJournal
Scientific article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management
Compilation of research articles in Environmental Entomology
Current distribution in the United States
Establishment risk in the United States and globally published in the Journal of Economic Entomology
Website managed by the Northeastern IPM Center's resource to Stop SLF
Management guide from PennState Extension
Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive planthopper that was first detected in Pennsylvania in September, 2014 (Dara et al., 2015) and believed to have arrived as eggs attached to stone in a shipment of stone from Asia. This pest is native to China and has been reported in some other Asian countries. Since its first occurrence in Berks County in Pennsylvania, it has now spread to 13 counties in the state and was also reported in Delaware and New York in November, 2017 and in Virginia in January, 2018.
Fruit trees (apple, apricot, cherry, peach), ornamental or woody trees (birch, lilac, maple, poplar, tree of heaven), and vines (grape) are among more than 70 species of hosts that are infested by spotted lanternfly. The tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is a favorite of the spotted lanternfly. Several invasive pests such as the brown marmorated stink bug and the Asian citrus psyllid first found in late 90s in Pennsylvania and Florida, respectively, have spread to other states and are now found in California. Considering its current distribution of the spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania and other states and its potential to spread to other states, this article provides an update on recent efforts to monitor and control this pest.
Biology and damage
Eggs are deposited in masses and covered by a waxy substance. There are four nymphal instars. Female lanternflies are larger than males. Nymphs and adults feed on the phloem and excrete large volumes of liquid. Severe feeding damage results in oozing wounds on the trunk, and wilting and death of affected branches.
Egg masses of the spotted lanternfly. Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Fourth instar nymph of the spotted lanternfly. Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Adult spotted lanternfly infestations. Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
White mold developing on the excretions of the spotted lanternfly. Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Monitoring and controlling
Preventing the movement: To prevent the spread of the spotted lanternfly, carefully inspect potential sources such as woody plant debris, yard waste, plants, or other objects. Destroy or disinfest the sources as appropriate to prevent the spread of the pest.
Removal of the host: Removing tree of heaven, a favorite host of the spotted lanternfly and an invasive species of tree, can reduce the risk of pest infestation and spread. Reducing the plant stand to 15% is considered a primary strategy for preventing the spread of spotted lanternfly. The tree should be removed with its entire root system when possible. If the tree was cut, its stump should be treated with herbicides to prevent regrowth. Care should be taken while removing the tree of heaven since the toxic plant sap can cause skin irritation, headaches, nausea, and in some cases cardiac problems. Sumac and black walnut trees also look similar to the tree of heaven, but when bruised, the leaves of the latter give out a rancid peanut butter odor.
Sticky bands: The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture placed 13 counties under quarantine and is currently providing sticky bands for volunteers participating in the monitoring program to place on trees. Sticky bands are placed around the tree trunk about 4' from the ground to trap the nymphs and adults that are moving around. While younger nymphs can be captured on less sticky bands, stickier bands are necessary to capture older nymphs and adult hoppers. Those not participating in the volunteer program can purchase sticky bands or sticky substances from commercial vendors or make their own by wrapping a tape around the trunk and applying petroleum jelly or other materials on the tape. This strategy helps to detect and trap the pest infestations. More than 1.7 million spotted lanternflies were reported to be trapped in 2017 in Pennsylvania using sticky bands.
Spotted lanternfly nymphs and some adults trapped on a sticky band. Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Pesticides: Contact insecticides, bifenthrin and carbaryl and systemic insecticides, dinotefuran and imidacloprid appear to be effective in controlling the spotted lanternfly based on the studies conducted in Pennsylvania. Neem oil and insecticidal soap also provide some control. However, pesticide applications appear to be a short-term solution as they cannot prevent reinfestation.
Biocontrol agents:It is thought that toxic metabolites in the body of the spotted lanternfly and its brightly colored hindwings tend to deter general predators from feeding on the pest. However, the predatory wheel bug, Arilus cristatus (Hemiptera: Reduvidae) and stink bug, Apoecilus cynicus were found feeding on adult spotted lanternfles in Pennsylvania (Barringer and Smyers, 2016). Some egg parasitoids were also reported to be attacking the spotted lanternfly in China (Choi et al., 2014) and South Korea (Kim et al., 2011). Liu and Mottern (2017) found Ooencyrtus kuvanae, an egg parasitoid imported for controlling the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), attacking the egg masses of the spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania in 2016. These native predators and introduced parasitoids could be potential biocontrol options for the spotted lanterfly.
Microbial control agents: Entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana, Isaria fumosorosea, and Metarhizium brunneum may also play a role alone or in combination with azadirachtin for controlling spotted lanternfly and researchers should explore microbial control.
Refer to the earlier article on the pest biology and damage at http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15861
Spotted lanternfly in Entomology Today: https://entomologytoday.org/2015/12/17/be-prepared-for-spotted-lanternfly/
Barringer, L. E. and E. Smyers. 2016. Predation of the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) by two native hemiptera. Entomol. News 126: 71-73. https://doi.org/10.3157/021.126.0109
Choi, M. Y., Z.Q. Yang, X. Y. Wang, Y. L. Tang, and Z. R. Hou. 2014. Parasitism rate of egg parasitoid Anastatus orientalis (Hymenoptera: Eupelmidae) on Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in China. Korean J. Appl. Entomol. 53: 135–139.
Dara, S. K., L. Barringer, and S. P. Arthurs. 2015. Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae): A new invasive pest in the United States. J. Integ. Pest Mngmt. 6(1): 20. https://doi.org/10.1093/jipm/pmv021
Kim, I. K., S. H. Koh, J. S. Lee, W. I. Choi, and S. C. Shin. 2011b. Discovery of an egg parasitoid of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) an invasive species in South Korea. J. Asia Pac. Entomol. 14: 213–215.
Liu H. and J. Mottern. 2017. An old remedy for a new problem? Identification of Ooencyrtus kuvanae (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), and egg parasitoid of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in North America. J. Ins. Sci. 17: 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/iew114
Adult spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Source http://hojae.net/520.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recently reported the first detection of yet another invasive hemipteran pest in the US. While efforts to have a good grip over other invasive hemipterans like the Asian citrus psyllid, the Bagrada bug, and the brown marmorated stink bug is still underway, there is a new pest that could potentially impact industries ranging from lumber to wine.
An exotic pest known as the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) was recently detected in Berks County, PA. Spotted lanternfly, which is actually not a fly, but a planthopper is also referred to as “spot clothing wax cicada” or “Chinese blistering cicada” in the literature. It belongs to the family Fulgoridae in the order Hemiptera. Fulgorids or members of the family Fulgoridae are moderate to large planthoppers generally referred to as lanternflies because of the inflated front portion of the head that was thought to be luminous. Spotted lanternfly is regarded as a poisonous insect in Chinese medicine and used for relief from swelling.
Origin and distribution
Spotted lanternfly is native to China and is present in Southeast Asia. It was first reported in South Korea in 2006 and rapidly spread to different parts of the country.
Spotted lanternfly feeds on a variety of host plants including fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, and vines. Apples, birch, cherry, dogwood, grapes, Korean Evodia, lilac, maple, poplar, stone fruits, and tree-of-heaven are among more than 70 species of hosts attacked by this pest. Tree-of-heaven, which contains high concentrations of cytotoxic alkaloids, is one of the favorite hosts. This is probably why spotted lanternfly is considered poisonous and used in traditional Chinese medicine. Other preferred hosts such as Korean Evodia (Bebe tree) are also used in oriental medicine suggesting that spotted lanternfly has a high preference for hosts that contain toxic secondary metabolites. Observations in South Korea also indicate that spotted lanternfly appears to have a wider host range early in life as young nymphs and a narrow range as they grow older, especially before egg laying. Choosing plants with toxic metabolites for egg laying is thought to be a mechanism of defense to protect from natural enemies. Although grape vine does not have toxic metabolites like these other hosts, spotted lanternfly showed a strong preference in studies conducted in South Korea. Sugar content of the host plant also appears to play a role in their choice with a preference for hosts containing high sucrose and fructose content.
Eggs are laid on tree trunks in ootheca (egg case) in groups of 30-50 and are covered in a yellowish brown waxy deposit. Eggs usually hatch during the early hours of the day. Waxy deposit disappears on old egg masses which look like brown seeds. There are four nymphal instars. Nymphs have a black body. The first three instars have white spots while the fourth instar has red wing pads and upper body. Nymphs start climbing up the trees after they emerge and fall off when there is a physical obstacle or disturbance from wind or other factors and start climbing up again. This falling and ascending cycle is thought to be a means of host selection and dispersal. Adult males are 20.5-22 mm (0.81-0.87 inches) long from head to the end of the folded wing and females are 24-26.5 mm (0.94-1.04 inches) long. Forewings are greyish with black spots in different patterns. Part of the hind wing is red with black spots and the rest is white and black. Tips of the wings show a network of veins (reticulated). Abdomen is yellowish with black bands. Legs are black and have white spots during nymphal stages. Length of the legs varies from 15-18 mm (0.59-0.71 inches) in adult males and 18-22 mm (0.71-0.87 inches) in adult females. Adults are weak flyers, but good hoppers. Head is black with piercing and sucking mouthparts. Life cycle is typically univoltine (one generation per year) and spotted lanternfly overwinters as eggs.
Adults and nymphs feed on phloem tissues of foliage and young stems with their piercing and sucking mouthparts and excrete large quantities of liquid. Due to the sugar content of the liquid, plant parts covered with spotted lanternfly excretion harbor mold growth, which could hinder plant growth or even cause death.
Neonicotinoids, pyrethrins, and organophosphates are among the chemical insecticides effective against spotted lanternfly. Adults and 2nd-4th instar nymphs appear to be attracted to spearmint oil which could be used in their control. Using sticky traps at the base of the tree trunks also appears to be a good management strategy. Parasitic wasp, Anastatus orientalis is reported to parasitize up to 69% of spotted lanternfly eggs in China. This egg parasitoid is considered a potential biocontrol agent for release against the spotted lanternfly in South Korea.
What to do if you find this insect
Please contact your local agricultural department, Agricultural Commissioner's office (if you are in California), or agricultural extension office to report the infestation if you have to report the pest infestation in a new area or you need specific information on how to manage the infestation.
Photos of the pest
Pictures of the spotted lanternfly can be found at the following sources:
Fourth instar nymph: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itchydogimages/6984394006/in/pool-lanternbugs
Early instar nymphs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itchydogimages/6197213287/
Barringer, L. 2014. Pest alert: Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae). Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Choi, M.-Y., Z.-Q. Yang, X.-Y. Wang, Y.-L. Tang, Z.-R. Hou. 2014. Parasitism rate of egg parasitoid Anastatus orientalis (Hymenoptera: Eupelmidae) on Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in China. Korean J. Appl. Entomol. 53: 135-139.
Ding J., Y. Wu, H. Zheng, W. Fu, R. Reardon, and M. Liu. 2006. Assessing potential biological
control of the invasive plant, tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Biocontrol Sci. Technol. 16:547-566
Han, J. M., H. Kim, E. J. Lim, S. Lee, Y.-J. Kwon, and S. Cho. 2008. Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Fulgoridae: Aphaeninae) finally, but suddenly arrived in Korea. Entomol. Res. 38: 281-286.
Kim, J. G., E.-H. Lee, Y.-M. Seo, and N.-Y. Kim. 2011. Cyclic behavior of Lycorma delicatula (Insecta: Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) on host plants. J. Insect Behav. 24: 423-435.
Frantsevich L., A. Ji, Z. Dai, J. Wang, L. Frantsevich, and S. N. Gorb. 2008. Adhesive properties of the arolium of a lantern-fly, Lycorma delicatula (Auchenorrhyncha, Fulgoridae). J. Insect Physiol 54: 818– 827.
Lee, J.-E., S.-R. Moon, H.-G. Ahn, S.-R. Cho, J.-O. Yang, C. Yoon, and G.-H. Kim. 2009. Feeding behavior of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) and response on feeding stimulants of some plants. Korean J. Appl. Entomol. 48: 467-477
Moon. S.-R., S.-R. Cho, J.-W. Jeong, Y.-H. Shin, J.-O. Yang, K.-S. Ahn, C. Yoon, and G.H. Kim. 2011. Attraction response of spot clothing wax cicada, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) to spearmint oil. Korean Soc. Appl. Biol. Chem. 54: 558-567./span>