The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is a planthopper insect known for causing significant damage to trees, vines, crops, and other types of plants. SLF is also a nuisance pest due to their size and tendency to congregate in large groups, which can be alarming to the general public. Also known as Lycorma delicatula, this invasive species is native to China, India, and Vietnam and was first detected in the United States in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014.
An adult Spotted Lanternfly can be identified by its black head and grayish wings with black spots. The tips of the SLF’s wings feature neatly spaced black rectangular blocks with grey outlines. When startled or flying, the Spotted Lanternfly displays its hind wings that are red at the base with black spots and tips with a white marking dividing them. The abdomen of the insect is yellow, ranging from pale to bright, with black bands on the top and bottom surfaces.
The Spotted Lanternfly poses a significant threat to various agricultural industries, including viticulture (grapes), fruit trees, plant nurseries and timber industries in the U.S. The SLF attacks with its piercing-sucking mouthparts that penetrate bark to reach the vascular system of plants, enabling it to extract nutrient rich fluids. Adult Spotted Lanternflies feed on branches and trunks while nymphs feed on tender shoots of new growth. The feeding done by large populations of the invasive insect weakens plants by stealing their carbohydrates produced through photosynthesis. This leads to dramatically reduced yields of agricultural crops. Years of attack from the Spotted Lanternfly can weaken the tree, making it vulnerable to other potentially lethal insects and diseases.
The Spotted Lanternfly sucks the sap from the host tree and excretes profuse amounts of honeydew. The honeydew can cause a number of issues including attracting other irritating pests such as wasps and ants, creating unsightly messes from drippage in the surrounding areas, and the development of sooty mold if left uncleaned.
Adult Spotted Lanternflies lay their eggs in the fall, starting in late September through late November. The preferred host for Spotted Lanternfly is the Tree of Heaven or Ailanthus altissima, but any smooth bark tree can be fed upon. SLF’s may lay their eggs on any flat vertical surface including lawn furniture, vehicles, houses and hardscaping. In Pennsylvania, the Spotted Lanternfly lays approximately 30-50 eggs covered in a brown, mud-like substance that protects the eggs against oil applications. Spotted Lanternfly nymphs begin to hatch in the spring, around late April to early May. The nymphs have four instar periods, developing red and white spots during earlier instars. Adult Spotted Lanternfly can be seen as early as July. Spotted Lanternfly have one generation per year.
Treating Spotted Lanternflies is tricky since they feed differently than other common insect pests. Because of this, our TruGreen specialists recommend a specialized approach to help control populations of 1st and 2nd instar SLFs as well as adults during the late summer months.
Our Spotted Lanternfly treatment is 5 rounds. The first round is a foliar spray to the entire landscape and a basal bark spray on Tree of Heaven. The next four rounds are applied as a trunk, stem, twig and lower foliage spray. This targets 2nd-4th instars and adults. From invasive Spotted Lanternflies to common pests, TruGreen is here to help protect your yard this spring and summer.