Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Exotic Insect Pest Found In Pennsylvania: Spotted Lanternfly

Adult Spotted Lanternfly

By now, many of you have heard that an exotic invasive insect known as the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has been discovered for the first time in the United States in Berks County, Pennsylvania.The Spotted Lanternfly is a planthopper native to Asia, specifically found in China, Korea, India, Vietnam, and parts of eastern Asia.

The first stage (3) is black with white spots and wingless. As it grows, it starts to develop red patches (4) in addition to the white spots.
Potential Impacts:

This potential pest has a wide host range and could threaten trees and woody ornamentals, causing economic loss to the green industry and damage to home landscapes. In the U.S. it has the potential to greatly impact the grape, fruit tree and logging industries. In Pennsylvania, this pest poses a significant threat to the state’s more than $20.5 million grape, nearly $134 million apple, and more than $24 million stone fruit industries. The lanternfly attacks many hosts besides grapes, apples, and stone fruits however. It has been found on more than 70 additional tree species. Pine and hardwood logging in Pennsylvania accounts for $12 billion in sales.

The only good news that I can find in this outbreak is that in the fall, adults switch hosts to focus on Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which is an introduced invasive tree. It appears to be the preferred host that the adults feed on in the fall and is used preferentially for egg laying. However, Tree of Heaven is not the only tree or surface the Spotted Lanternfly will lay eggs upon – any smooth trunked tree, stone or vertical smooth surface can provide a potential host for egg masses. 

Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses
It lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs wherever there's a flat surface -- meaning that many home items easily transported can pack this pest and help it spread quickly. On Nov. 1, 2014, the Commonwealth announced a quarantine with the intent to restrict the movement of this pest in the affected areas in Berks County.

A general quarantine over any area found to harbor the Spotted Lanternfly means that any material or object that can spread the pest cannot be moved. Experts are still learning about this threat to agriculture in Pennsylvania and the United States and how to combat it.

About the Quarantine:


  • Berks (District, Hereford, Pike, Rockland and Washington townships; including Bally and Bechtelsville)
  • Earl Township added November 21, 2014.

Regulated Articles and Limitations Imposed by the General Quarantine

  • Any living life stage of the Spotted Lanternfly.
  • Brush, debris, bark, or yard waste.
  • Landscaping, remodeling or construction waste.
  • Logs, stumps or any tree parts.
  • Firewood of any species.
  • Packing materials like wood crates
  • All plants and plant parts.
  • Outdoor household articles like RVs, lawn mowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deck boards, and trucks or other vehicles not stored indoors.

You can move these and similar items if:

  • You have a valid certificate or limited permit that shows that the item has been inspected and determined free of Spotted Lanternfly.
  • You have entered a compliance agreement that shows you have the understanding to identify the pest and can ensure the items you transport aren't carrying it.
  • You are driving through the quarantined area and are transporting your item in a way that makes it unlikely to harbor the pest as you pass through.
  • You complete a certification checklist.
To download the quarantine order click here.

Penn State Extension is working with PDA on a coordinated response to study, contain, manage and possibly eradicate this infestation. County Extension offices have been listed as one resource for receiving information about spotted lanternfly and for submitting samples for identification.

Anyone submitting samples should follow the instructions in the fact sheet mentioned above and fill out the PDA submission form (linked at the bottom of the fact sheet).

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