Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive insect from Asia that threatens a wide variety of plants such as hops, grapevine, walnut, fruit trees, maple trees. Its preferred host is an invasive plant called the tree of heaven (Ailantus altissima).
SLF was likely introduced to the US as egg masses on a stone shipment from China, India, Vietnam or South Korea. The first infestation was discovered in 2014, in Berks County , Pennsylvania and has since spread to DE, MD, NJ, VA & West VA. As of December 2019, there are no known SLF infestations in NY, but the presence of the insect has been confirmed in multiple counties within the state and spread potential for this insect is high. Map of known SLF Distribution
SLF adults and nymphs use piercing mouthparts to suck plant sap making their hosts vulnerable to disease and attack from other insects. SLF swarm host plants and feed by the thousands and secrete an unpleasant sticky honeydew that attracts mold that interferes with photosynthesis directly interfering with crop yields. The honeydew also hinders outdoor activities as it gives off a foul odor and attracts swarms of other insects that may sting.
Signs of infestation
Sap oozing or weeping from wounds on host plants that appear wet and may give off a fermented odor. The presence of egg masses that are one-inch-long and appear to be brownish-gray and waxy or are brown and scaly.
Early-stage SLF nymphs are black with white spots, they range in size depending on their life-cycle stage. SLF turn red with white spots just before they transform into winged adults. Adults are 1 inch long and ½ inch wide with greyish colored forewings and red hindwings with black spots, their upper wing portions are dark with white stripes. Adult SLF usually appear in July. In the fall, SLF adults lay egg masses that are an inch long with a smooth brownish-gray waxy appearance, as the egg masses age they turn brown and scaly.
The best mode of control for SLF is prevention. SLF easily spreads by hitchhiking to new areas on vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture, stone, etc. Be sure to check your vehicles and gear when traveling from or stopping within known quarantine areas (PA, NY, DE, MD, and VA). Monitor tree of heaven populations for signs of SLF.
Monitor tree of heaven, young black walnut, wild grapevines and other SLF host plants for signs of infestation. Use a plastic card or putty knife to scrape egg masses into a container filled with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to collect a specimen for confirmation. Banding trees with specifically designed bug bands helps catch nymphs and adult SLF and reduces by-catch. Recent research indicates the removal of Tree of heaven increases SLF dispersal, as they seek suitable hosts further away.
There are pesticides labeled for specific crops and application restrictions for spotted lanternfly in New York State. For regulations and guidance for controlling spotted lanternfly with pesticides reach out to the NYS Integrated Pest Management out of Cornell University at email@example.com.
If you find Spotted Lanternfly in New York:
- Take pictures of the insect, egg masses, or infestation you see and, if possible, include something for size, such as a coin or ruler.
- If possible, collect the insect. Place in a bag and freeze, or in a jar with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
- Note the location (street address and zip code, intersecting roads, landmarks, or GPS coordinates).
- Email pictures and location to firstname.lastname@example.org OR fill out the form at Spotted Lanternfly Observation, which includes specimen information.
- For more information, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website page on Spotted Lanternfly.