Do Spotted Lanternflies Bite?

Group of 7 spotted lanterflies on a maple tree


Have you ever seen an intriguing plant-hopping creature with gray and red wings and black spots and wondered what it was and whether it was threatening? You may have come across the spotted lanternfly. These sightings have become increasingly common in the United States, and many people become nervous when they encounter spotted lanternflies, unsure if they bite or pose other risks. Although native to China, they were first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014 and are now primarily found throughout the Northeast and the central-eastern part of the United States.

If you have detected some negative attitudes surrounding these creatures and have become curious as to why spotted lanternflies are bad, we have answers. Read on to learn more about whether spotted lanternflies do indeed bite and what potential damage they could cause.

What Are Spotted Lanternflies?

Close up of spotted lanterfly on a leaf

Spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) are an invasive species of insect originating in parts of Asia, including China, India, and Vietnam. They are commonly known as planthoppers. They are found on a variety of about 70 different species of woody plants and fruit crops, especially grapes.

Young spotted lanternfly nymph on plantSpotted lanternflies go through four stages in their life cycle: the egg, nymph, adult, and resting stages. Eggs are laid in masses that resemble grayish-brown mud or putty. Young nymphs emerge and go through metamorphosis stages before full adulthood. Early-stage nymphs are black with white spots, and they eventually develop red patches as they grow. The egg and nymph stages last about six months, starting in January each year.

Adult spotted lanternflies start emerging in June, are about 1 inch long, and have very distinctive markings. Their forewings are grayish with black spots, while their hindwings are red with black spots and a white band near the tips. When at rest, their wings fold tent-like over their bodies, creating a visually striking display. The adult and resting stages usually start in June and last about six months. The entire lifespan of a spotted lanternfly is about one year.

Are Spotted Lanternflies Dangerous?

 Close up of spotted lanterfly eggs on tree showing pencil for size comparisonWhen it comes to determining if the spotted lanternfly is dangerous, you may be wondering; do spotted lanternflies bite humans? Fortunately, spotted lanternflies do not bite humans or pets. This information will likely bring much relief the next time their spotted wings come into your view.  So, if they don’t bite humans or pets, why are spotted lanternflies bad? Unfortunately, their presence is cause for concern when it comes to plant life.

While spotted lanternflies do not bite us or our furry friends, they are still a significant nuisance to plants, trees, and crops. Their favorite host is the Tree of Heaven, though they will also eat from grapes, other hardwoods, and fruit trees. They pierce the bark of trees and plants to access the sap. This damages the tree or plant and can cause significant damage to agricultural crops.

Also, although we’ve established that spotted lanternflies are not dangerous to humans, and your pets won’t likely be bitten by spotted lanternflies, they should be kept away from them. Animals may be tempted to eat spotted lanternflies, and more research needs to be done to determine if this could cause serious health issues for your pet.

Why Are Spotted Lanternflies Bad?

Spotted lanternfly on grapes Spotted lanternflies can be a nuisance to humans due to their swarming behavior and large populations. Their presence in large numbers can create an unpleasant environment, especially in outdoor recreation areas, gardens, or even your own backyard.

Unfortunately, spotted lanternflies can be transported long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. This can have a significant impact on agriculture and the environment. Spotted lanternflies love to feast on fruit plants and trees. They especially like grape plants. They feed on these plants and weaken them, which reduces the crop yield. This can result in less fruit available for the public to purchase and higher prices for certain produce.

Let’s learn more about what to do when you find a spotted lanternfly.

What to Do When You Find a Spotted Lanternfly

Since first being spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014, spotted lanternflies have migrated to 13 other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.

When you find a spotted lanternfly, there are likely many more somewhere nearby. When you discover spotted lanternflies in your area, you want to alert your local agricultural department and take immediate action to eliminate the threat to your plants and trees. Spotted lanternflies in the nymph stage can be sprayed with insecticides if you can catch them. Adults are harder to kill on contact and are best left to the professionals. Your local pest control service will have ways to eliminate this invasive pest.

How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternflies?

Hiring a professional pest control service is the best defense against spotted lanternflies, especially if you find an infestation. However, there are several things you can do ahead of the arrival of a pest control service to help protect your property from spotted lanternflies. These include the following steps:

  1. If your property has trees of heaven, remove them. They are the spotted lanternfly’s favorite food source.
  2. Be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly egg masses in the winter towards the end of the year. If you spot one, you can scrape it off the tree into a bag. Add sanitizer, seal the bag, and dispose of it.
  3. Spray any nymphs or adults found with an insecticidal soap or apple cider vinegar. Do not spray vinegar directly on plants, as it may damage them.
  4. Plant milkweed. Spotted lanternflies are drawn to this plant, but it is poisonous to them and kills them.

Contact Mosquito Joe® for Spotted Lanternflies Control Services

You no longer have to panic about what to do when you find a spotted lanternfly. Mosquito Joe is here to help. Our service professionals are experienced in effectively removing all types of flying, biting, and annoying pests. And with work that is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and our own Mosquito Joe guarantee, you sure to be happy with the results. Request a free quote today or call us at 1-855-275-2563.