Ryan Parker, NYSIPM Program/Extension Aide II, has spent plenty of hours facing Spotted Wing Drosophila. Today he’s discussing the newest spotted pest.
Adult spotted lanternfly. Photo by Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org
Tree of heaven. Photo by Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is just heavenly to a spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). This invasive planthopper is sadly all but exclusive to that invasive tree, but has been found on stone fruit, blueberries, grapevine, and a smorgasbord of 70+ species as hosts. Its ability to use favorites such as hop vines and black walnut as preferential hosts for its life cycle will continue to be studied.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to call the spotted lanternfly (SLF) by its alternate name, Chinese blistering cicada. Acting to blister, fester, spread out its cute little wings and become personified as new breed of supervillain. Black widow please step away, Hollywood + spotted lanternfly = horror-able. All puns aside, everybody loves facts.
The insect has been found in 2014 in PA (now at infestation levels), DE (2018), NJ (2018), VA (2018), and NY (2018). In New York, only one insect was found at both locations (Albany and Penn Yan). NYS citizens who were knowledgeable in the identification of the insect reported the finding, proving that awareness of this pest will play a crucial role in limiting its spread.
SLF is aesthetically pleasing. Case in point:
Photo by Lawrence Barringer, PA Dept. of Agriculture, Bugwood.org.
Looks aside, its true colors show when its presence leads to crop loss, increased maintenance, and management costs. Don’t forget the reduction of a person’s quality of life and hazardous working conditions.
These insects, with all life stages present, mass on a given plant, sucking sap through their piercing-sucking mouth parts. Unlike the earlier instars, older SLF can pierce through thicker tissue. They do not feed directly on fruit, but may affect fruit quality.
Mass of lanternflies on tree. Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org
While feeding, spotted lanternflies’ honeydew excrement encourages the growth of sooty mold that builds up on leaves, fruit, and around the bases of trees–especially if infestation levels are high. The presence of a fermenting odor caused by SLF feeding damage, and the sweetness of excreted honeydew also attracts nuisance insects, including wasps and flies. And sooty mold can become slippery. There is great concern about the sheer numbers of insects, because SLF abundance can be problematic for agricultural machinery and harvested products.
Spotted lanternfly lays eggs on virtually any smooth and strong surface, including plant material, stones, bricks, metal, and plastic. Thus, egg masses can be spread easily and unknowingly, and their dispersal can occur through practically any mode of transportation.
Spotted lanternfly egg mass. Photo credit: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University.
One generation occurs per year: adults develop in July, lay eggs from September-November. Overwintering egg masses—each containing 30-50 eggs—are usually covered in a waxy brown substance resembling mud. First instar nymphs emerge between May-June. First three instars are black and white; the fourth acquiring red pigments.
There is no current lure for SLF. Sentinel trees of tree of heaven are used to monitor, trap, and kill insects with systemic insecticides. Wrapping trees trunks with sticky bands, or scraping off egg masses can help. Or simply squish the nymphs and adults.
DEC Press Release: Think You Found a Spotted Lanternfly in New York?
Anyone that suspects they have found SLF is encouraged to send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note the location of where the insect was found, egg masses, and/or infestation signs. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Dept. of Ag and Markets (DAM) also encourage the public to inspect outdoor items such as vehicles, furniture, and firewood for egg masses. Anyone that visits the Pennsylvania or New Jersey Quarantine Areas should thoroughly inspect their vehicle, luggage and gear for SLF and egg masses before leaving and scrape off all egg masses.
A Smartphone application is also available to help citizens and conservation professionals quickly and easily report new invasive species sightings directly to New York’s invasive species database from their phones. For more information, visit http://www.nyimapinvasives.org/
For More Information Please Visit:
Drum Roll: The Spotted Lanternfly (NYSIPM Blog Mary M. Woodsen, 2018)
Spotted Lanternfly DEC Factsheet (May, 2018)
Spotted Lanternfly Management Calendar (Penn State Extension, 2017)