Invasive spotted lanternfly in US East, Midwest - kill it if you see it

Yes, it's pretty, but the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper native to Asia that is wreaking havoc on ag crops and fruit trees
calendar icon 20 September 2021
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The SLF was first discovered in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in Berks County in 2014 and has spread to other counties in PA, as well as the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Connecticut and Ohio.

According to The Washington Post, an SLF was spotted in a 4-H display at the Kansas State Fair last week, and the boy said he had found the dead lanternfly on his Kansas patio, 850 miles from the closest known infestation.

This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops and hardwood trees. The SLF feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees. SLF feeds on the plant sap of many different plants including grapevines, maples, black walnut, and other important plants in NJ. While it does not harm humans or animals, it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.

Why You Should Care

SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a significant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants and the feeding damage significantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.

As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.

In the fall, these bugs will lay egg masses with 30-50 eggs each. They are called bad bugs for a reason, don't let them take over your county or next.

If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, help us Stomp it Out, says the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. To report a sighting, use the reporting tool or email [email protected] or contact your local Extension agent or state agriculture department.

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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