• Marilyn Kopczyk | Land & Tree Blog Spot

The Spotted Lanternfly Threat

Somerset, Somerset County, New Jersey

The Spotted Lanternfly, a south Asian originating species, is an invasive insect posing a new threat to east-coast greenery. While the Spotted Lanternfly's preferred hosting ground is within flowering deciduous trees, they have been found to be invading various forms of local agriculture, nursery stock and other native hardwoods alike.

Photo by USDA (CC 1.0)

Northeastern Trees known to be affected by the Spotted Lanternfly are:

  • Nut Trees: Almond and Walnut

  • Sap Trees: Maple, Oak, Pine and Sycamore

  • Fruit Trees: Apple, Apricot, Cherry, Grape, Nectarine, Peach and Plum

  • Other Budding Trees: Hops, Poplar and Willow.

Spotting the Spotted Lanternfly can be a bit tricky as the insect undergoes several life-cycle stages, in which its physical appearance changes, but the key indicator of the Spotted Lanternfly is that throughout all stages (with the exception of the initial stage), it always carries some form of spots.

  • Egg Stage (October to upward of June) it remains in a cocoon-like patch that may resemble brown putty when newly laid, or brown paper-mache when aged.

  • 1st thru 3rd Stages (May thru July), also known as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Instar, it may appear mostly black with white spots, but will increase in size as it continues through the stages.

  • 4th Stage (July thru September), known as the 4th Instar, it may now appear mostly red, with black and/or white spots.

  • Adult Stage (July thru December) it is now winged and may appear mostly black, with brownish-beige wings that are highlighted with red and accented with black spots.

  • Adult Egg-Laying Stage (September thru December) it locates a host and begin the egg laying cycle again.

Both nymphs and adults feed on plants by piercing stems and leaves with specialized mouth parts. They can often be found swarming in masses over an infested plant.

The Spotted Lanternfly is predominantly attracted to sap trees, to which it will excessively suck the sap of a tree to the point of completely weakening it, then secrete a honeydew like substance that causes the tree to grow toxic black mold at the base, ultimately resulting in die-back. The Lanternfly has also been found to have been ravishing local vineyards, in turn decimating the nectar of grape plants, which can cripple the production of commodities like juice and wine, which are grown in the northeast in New York and Pennsylvania.

Some common signs to look for when checking your property for the presence of the Spotted Lanternfly is to note if any plants or trees on the premises appear to be weeping, have the presence of sap that appears to have a soot-like mold growing on the surface and an odor that is seemingly fowl, or has a sticky fluid building-up on, around, near, or underneath them.

Having a Tree Expert inspect your property for unhealthy trees is a great precaution for early detection of the Spotted Lanternfly and can reduce the spreading of infestation, as well as will exercising caution when purchasing new botanical's and/or firewood products.

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