Spotted Lanternflies

It seems we are seeing more of the Spotted Lanternflies in our area. Before you would only see one here or there, but now you see them quite often, especially at parks or when taking a walk. They are not good flyers, so you often see them just fly erratically for very short distances then land. Then wait a little and fly again or seek shelter. They are interesting photo subjects but very very invasive! While the Spotted Lanternfly prefers the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), it feeds on a variety of host plants including fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, vegetables, herbs, grains and vines. 

The early stages of the Lanternfly:

  • There are four nymphal instars.
  • The first three instars are black with white spots. 
  • They grow from a few millimeters to appro. ¼ inch and have no wings. 
  • They are strong jumpers to avoid capture or predators. 
  • They appear in this stage beginning in May through July. 
  • The fourth instars are approx. 1/2inch in size and bright red, covered in black stripes and white spots.  
  • They are strong jumpers and will jump to avoid danger. 
  • They appear in this stage from July through September. 
Lanternfly on Carport
Lanternfly Wing Patterns from Underneath
Local Park Warning Sign
Local Park Warning Sign & Online

NJ Department of Agriculture Posting:

Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper native to China, India, and Vietnam; it is also established in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. It 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.

This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops and hardwood 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.

If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, help us Stomp it Out!

14 Comments on “Spotted Lanternflies

  1. Although thankfully I have not seen a single one to this date, they are around. One campaign to reduce their spread is not moving firewood from county to county. Some think them attractive but I am influenced knowing their destructiveness and don’t like them for anything.

    • I AGREE!! I live in an area with a wide variety of farms, from tree farms to live stock. Plus all of the parks. But they seem to be increasing in most of the parks and in my retirement community!

  2. Wow. I have never seen one of these and, judging from the vigor of the campaign, I sure hope I don’t spot any, though I must admit that pattern on the bodies of the adults looks pretty cool.

    • They do look somewhat interesting, but are very invasive! They are very very poor flyers but they do seem to get around since we see them so often. They seem to fly short distances then land. Then do another short flight. Over & over again. All the images on this post were from my yard, carport & sidewalks. We also have a wide variety of farms and large parks around us. From tree farms to livestock so hopefully the tree farms will be ok.

  3. Interesting post Reed, I have never seen nor heard of these invasive creatures before. Maybe that is a good thing based on your description of their habits.

  4. Although they are beautiful to look at, they can do quite a bit of damage. They do not occur in our regions (yet) but with global warming and the masses of international transport you never know…

  5. Thanks for the informative heads-up, Reed. Haven’t seen these yet in TX, but now I’ll know what to do if I spot one.

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