The Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is an insect that is indigenous to China, India, and Vietnam. Back in 2014 this invasive pest was first detected in Pennsylvania, and since then was found in New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia. In 2017 The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirmed that the spotted lanternfly has been found in multiple counties in New York.  The pest primarily feeds on the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), but it also attacks a wide variety of crops including grapes, hops, apples and forest products.

 

How do you identify the SLF?

Nymphs: Black with white spots and turn red before transitioning into adults.

Adults: The forewings are gray with black spots, the lower portion of the hindwings are red with black spots, and the upper portion of the hindwings are dark with a white stripe. 

 

What time of year can they be found?

SLF lay eggs in the fall, therefore eggs can primarily be found in the months of winter through early spring.

Nymphs can be seen as early as April.

Adults begin to appear in July.

 

What is the risk?

SLF pose a significant threat to New York’s agricultural and forest health. Adults and nymphs use their sucking mouthparts to feed on the sap of more than 70 plant species. Feeding by sometimes-thousands of SLF stresses plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. SLF also excrete large amounts of sticky “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants.

 

How do they spread?

While the insect can walk, jump, or fly short distances, its long-distance spread is facilitated by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses.

 

What are signs of infestation?

  • Sap oozing or weeping from tiny open wounds on tree trunks, which appears wet and may give off fermented odors.
  • One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy and mudlike when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
  • Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold.

 

What can be done?

  • Learn how to identify the Spotted Lanternfly
  • Always inspect outdoor items (firewood, furniture, vehicles, etc.) for egg masses.
  • Take precautions when coming into contact with the Tree of Heaven. There have been few reports of skin irritation or dermatitis from contact with plant parts (leaves, branches, seeds, and bark), as well as rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) from contact of sap to broken skin, blisters, and cuts. For those who have extensive contact with this tree, please wear protective clothing (including gloves) and avoid the sap.
  • If you believe you have found the SLF in New York: Take pictures of the insect, egg masses, or signs of infestation and include a coin or ruler for scale. Note the location (address, intersecting roads, landmarks, or coordinates). Email the information to the DEC (spottedlanternfly@dec.ny.gov), and report the infestation to iMapInvasives (NYiMapInvasives.org).
  • If you visit other states with the SLF, check all equipment and gear before leaving and scrape off any egg masses. This can be done by using an old credit card, butter knife, or similar edged object. Scrape in a downward motion into a bag, double bag them, and then add rubbing alcohol or smash them before throwing them away. You can also check the each states DEC website for information on the SLF in that particular state.

 

 

If you have any questions, would like more information, or believe you have found the Spotted Lanternfly please follow the directions above, or feel free to contact myself. You can reach me by phone: 518-272-4210 or email: kls342@cornell.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/slffs.pdf

https://extension.psu.edu/tree-of-heaven

https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=26349

 

 

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