Guess the Pest! Week #1 Answer: Spotted Lanternfly

Bill Cissel, Extension Agent – Integrated Pest Management; and Tyler Hagerty

Congratulations to Joseph Baltrukonis for correctly identifying the insect as the spotted lanternfly and for being selected to be entered into the end of season raffle for $100 not once but five times. Everyone else who guessed correctly will also have their name entered into the raffle. Click on the Guess the Pest logo to participate in this week’s Guess the Pest challenge!

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species originally from China, India, and Vietnam. It was first discovered in Berks County, PA in 2014 and has since been detected in Virginia, New York, and in New Castle County, Delaware. The adult is about an inch in length with a black head and legs. Its forewings are light brow to grey in color with black spots. The forewing tips have a black margin with a rectangular blocking pattern outlined in grey. The hind wings are red with black spots and the wing tips have a black margin separated by a white band. Only the forewings are visible when the bug is in a resting position.

The nymphs are similar to all other immature insects in that they lack wings. The first three immature stages are black with white spots. The fourth nymphal stage has black legs, a red body and is covered with white spots.

Spotted Lanternfly Nymph

Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs on Wild Grape

Spotted lanternfly egg masses are 1-1½” in length and ½ – ¾” wide, grayish-brown in color and are covered in a waxy coating. Each egg mass contains 30-50 eggs that are typically laid on vertical surfaces including tree trunks, telephone poles and even vehicles.

Spotted Lanternfly Egg Mass

The spotted lanternfly is univoltine (one generation per year) and overwinters as eggs. In the spring and early summer, the eggs hatch and the nymphs undergo four nymphal instars before molting into an adult in July. Adults begin laying eggs in September until the onset of winter which kills any remaining adults.

The adults and nymphs feed on plants by inserting their piercing-sucking mouth parts into young leaves and stems, removing plant sap. This causes plant stress, reducing photosynthesis, and can eventually contribute to plant death. They are not known to feed directly on fruit but excrete a sugary substance known as honeydew that facilitates the growth of sooty mold that can damage or kill whole fruit trees.

The spotted lanternfly’s preferred host plant is tree of heaven. However, it is considered a generalist, meaning it feeds on many species of plants, some of which are of economic importance including but not limited to blueberry, peach, grape, apple, nectarine, hops, and timber.

Currently, efforts are underway throughout the Mid-Atlantic to detect possible new infestations of spotted lanternfly. If you find an insect or egg mass that you suspect as spotted lanternfly, please follow the guidelines below for each respective state with details on how to report it.

▪ For general information about spotted lanternfly in DE:

▪ If you find a spotted lanternfly in DE, please report it to:

▪ For general information about spotted lanternfly in PA:

▪ To report Egg Masses that have been scraped off in PA:

▪ To report caught specimens (young or adults) in PA:

▪ Submit photographs of spotted lanternfly detections in PA to:
Also call 1-866-253-7189 and report sightings

▪ For general information about spotted lanternfly in VA:

▪ Submit a photographs of spotted lanternfly detections in VA:

▪ If you observe any egg masses or insect that you suspect is a spotted lanternfly, please try to collect it, and inform the Maryland Department of Agriculture at (410) 841-5920 or as soon as possible.

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