An early spring means warmth, flowers and eminent hatching of thousands of spotted lanternfly (SLF) egg masses. Most likely the hatch will begin in southern Pennsylvania in mid- to late-April and lag by a week or so in more northern counties. The majority of SLF hatch (more than 50%) will likely be in mid to late May.
As the first instars of SLF hatch from the eggs they instantly seek tender plant tissue on which to feed. (An instar or nymph is an immature insect stage. SLF goes through four instars before becoming an adult.)
The tiny first instar is just 1/8 inch long. It moves quite quickly by crawling and, like the stages to come, is also a good hopper. Because it is so tiny, its white spots are not readily apparent, and it is often mistaken for a small spider or tick.