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Spotted Lanternflies

About Spotted Lanternflies

adult spotted lanternfly on bark

West Virginians should be on the lookout for a new invasive insect pest, the spotted lanternfly (ycorma delicatula), which attacks several host plants such as grapes, hops, and various fruit and timber trees. Native to Asia, this pest was first detected in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2014. Even though, the spotted lanternfly is not known to occur in West Virginia, the insect has been spreading and is now confirmed in 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and in New Castle County, Delaware.

Spotted Lanternfly Description

Spotted lanternfly adults are approximately 1 inch in size with grayish forewings marked with black spots and small black brick-like markings near the wing tips. The hindwings are marked with distinct patches of red, white and black. Adults lay yellowish-brown egg masses that are covered with a gray, waxy coating. The immature stages of the insect, or nymphs, are black with white spots, and they eventually develop bright red patches as they near adulthood.

Spotted Lanternfly Damage

spotted lanternfly nymphs on a green branch

Spotted lanternfly adults and nymphs often aggregate in large numbers on host plants.

Nymphs are known to feed on a wide range of plant species; however, adults prefer feeding and laying eggs on tree-of-heaven ( Ailanthus altissima), particularly in the late summer and fall. The spotted lanternfly injures host plants by sucking the fluids from plant tissue, threatening a plant’s health. If left unmanaged, it can eventually kill the plant. They also produce copious amounts of a sugary liquid called honeydew, which can promote the growth of a black-colored fungus called sooty mold, and attract other insects.

Spotted Lanternfly Control

Currently, quarantines have been established in counties with infestations to stop or slow the spread of spotted lanternfly into new areas. In addition, efforts are being taken to ensure that this insect is not present outside quarantine zones. However, if you find an insect that you believe is the spotted lanternfly, collect a specimen or take a high-quality photograph, and contact the West Virginia Department of Agriculture or local WVU Extension Service office.

Author: Daniel Frank, WVU Extension Service Entomology Specialist
Last Reviewed: March 23, 2018