Spotted lanternfly, (Lycorma delicatula)

Departments - Under the Microscope

The exotic threat has spread since its 2014 arrival.

The fourth instar nymph of the spotted lanternfly has distinctive red patches and white spots.

Discovered in September 2014 in Pennsylvania, this unwelcome import has spurred the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to place 21 towns in five counties under quarantine. The department received $2.9 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund efforts to control the insect, along with $25,000 for outreach efforts.

The spotted lanternfly is a plant hopper native to China, India and Vietnam, and has been introduced in South Korea and Japan. In Korea, where it was first detected in 2004, the spotted lanternfly is known to attack more than 70 species, 25 of which also occur in Pennsylvania, including cultivated grapes, fruit trees and hardwood species.

Dana Rhodes, a Plant Inspection Program Specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, says the spotted lanternfly is definitely a threat to nursery growers.

“We are noticing some similarities between it and gypsy moths,” Rhodes says. “Like gypsy moths, it lays egg masses on anything with a flat, smooth surface."

That includes host trees, masonry, outdoor vehicles or the smooth sides of nursery containers. Review and inspect items stored outside in a treeline to ensure you’re not moving the egg masses. Accidental transport has been a key factor in the pest's spread.

If you find evidence of spotted lanternfly in your nursery, contact your local Penn State Extension office at Email photographs to Call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-866-253-7189.