The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that is originally from Asia that has now unfortunately spread to Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Currently, it is a major environmental concern in Southeastern Pennsylvania and there have been a few sightings reported in nearby states such as New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Delaware, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, and West Virginia. This insect’s host plants are grapes, stone fruits, hardwood, and they often effect landscape and nursery industries. Their preferred host is another invasive species that was brought from China to the United States in the late 1700s called a Tree of Heaven. The insect weakens the host plants by feeding on the sap and then excretes a sugary substance called “honeydew.” That substance produced then attracts stinging insects, promotes growth of sooty mold, and causes an annoyance to residential areas.
To help stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly, Pennsylvania has issued a quarantine order requiring inspection of all items moving within or out of an area that is infested with these insects. This is in place to prevent the transport of this pest that could be in any living life stage.
The egg masses of these insects are often found on trees, rocks, and other hard surfaces. They have a gray, mud-like covering which can become dry and cracked over time. Once the spotted lanternfly hatches around late April through July, you may see Nymphs, or juvenile insects that do not yet have wings and are black or red in color with white spots. At this point, they will only be about one eighth to a half inch in size and they move extremely fast. Once they reach the adult stage, found July through December, they will have developed wings and become about an inch long with a dark body and red, black, and white wings.
You are able to report sightings and check whether you’re inside or outside the quarantine zone by visiting extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly. You should always kill and collect the specimen by freezing it or placing it in rubbing alcohol if you believe you are the first one to report it in your county. Another way to report sightings is by calling 888-4-BADFLY (888-422-3359) toll-free. Only use the phone number if you are outside of the quarantine zone.
Union County was added to the quarantine list in 2022, as well as surrounding counties such as Snyder, Centre, and Lycoming. Please share your knowledge of spotted lanternflies with others and kill any of them that you encounter to stop the spread!