What is a Spotted Lanternfly?

The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a striking, moth-like-looking insect. Native to China, India, and Vietnam, it was first detected in the U.S. in September 2014 in Pennsylvania. This beautiful pest is invasive and a voracious eater of many fruit crops and trees. 

As a result, it poses a serious threat to fruit production and logging in this country. The spotted lanternfly has already spread to 14 states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is anxious to stop its further proliferation.

A Spotted Lanternfly rests on a tree in a Virginia backyardWhat is a Spotted Lanternfly?

The spotted lanternfly is categorized as a planthopper insect. They do not fly long distances but hitchhike across county and state lines. Early-stage nymphs are black with white spots, even on their legs. As they mature, late-stage nymphs develop a bright scarlet back with white spots, though the legs remain black with white spots.

An adult spotted lanternfly is about one inch long and has large, moth-like wings. The upper wings are a light tan with many black spots. The lower wings are sectioned, with white-striped black above a brilliant scarlet, spotted with black. However, you will only see the scarlet when the insect spreads its wings for flight. When the wings are at rest, the red is covered, showing through the upper wings as pale pink.

The best time to find adult spotted lanternflies is at dusk when the colorful insects tend to cluster in groups on tree trunks or bushes. Spotted lanternfly eggs are laid in masses that look like small mud smears measuring about 1.5 inches in length. You’ll find them on hard surfaces such as trees, stones, vehicles, and outdoor furniture.

The mature female seeks out sheltered spots, like the bottom side of a patio table, house siding, bushes, the underside of tree limbs, or in the crotch of a tree. The adult female spotted lanternfly is particularly partial to the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), a fast-growing deciduous tree native to China and another invasive species here. While eggs are often laid near these trees, hatchlings and nymphs have a wide range of fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, vines, grains, vegetables, and herbs on their menu.

Why is the Spotted Lanternfly a Problem?

At all stages of the spotted lanternfly’s life, it is a voracious feeder, boring into trees and plants to suck the juices. The feeding leads to oozing sap, leaf curl, wilting, and dieback in trees, vines, grains, and vegetable crops. As they feed, their honeydew waste attracts other pests.

The honeydew also encourages the development of fungal disease, further devastating plant life. In just eight years since the insect’s discovery in our country, spotted lanternfly damage exceeds hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Thus far, there is no simple pest management solution to the dangers posed by this invasive species. Spotted lanternflies are fast and difficult to kill, and it is critical not to destroy pollinators and other beneficial insects in our zeal to eliminate these pests.

How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternfly?

There are several steps homeowners can take to rid their property of spotted lanternflies and play a role in helping to contain the damage they do:

  1. If you see a spotted lanternfly, report it to the agricultural department. You’ll find state-specific phone numbers and email addresses here.
  2. Remove any tree of heaven from your property.
  3. In the winter, at the end of the year, be on the watch for spotted lanternfly egg masses. If you find one, scrape it into a ziplock bag loaded with hand sanitizer. Seal it and dispose of it.
  4. One way to kill spotted lanternfly nymphs and adults is by spraying them directly with apple cider vinegar or insecticidal soap. However, the vinegar can damage the plant the insects are on, so avoid spraying it directly on plants.
  5. Plant milkweed (Asclepias)! This wildflower is best known as the host for egg-laying monarch butterflies, but it is also highly attractive to spotted lanternflies. The insects feed on the Asclepias sap, which slowly poisons and kills them.
  6. Hire a professional spotted lanternfly removal service.

Spotted Lanternfly Removal Service

You‘re likely wondering how to kill spotted lanternflies efficiently. Mosquito Joe provides professional spotted lanternfly removal. Our trained professional comes out to for a one-time treatment of trees on your property that the insects feed on. We are anxious to do our part to protect American agriculture and logging from this growing threat.

Contact Mosquito Joe, Today!

Mosquito Joe can help you protect your property from spotted lanternflies, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. We’re on a mission to make the outdoors fun again! Call us at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online. We’re happy to answer your questions and to take pests out of your way.