BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive insect species native to China that is quickly expanding through the Mid-Atlantic Region. Like all invasive species, the Spotted Lanternfly has no natural predators or diseases in North America, enabling its population to build rapidly. Spotted Lanternfly is attracted to Tree-of-Heaven, an urban weed tree (also an invasive species) but is also known to feed significantly on grape vines, hops, apple trees and maple trees, among other plant species. Spotted Lanternflies pose an economic threat to New York’s agricultural industry as wine, beer, cider, and maple-products are major commodities for New York State. First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, SLF populations have become established in several neighboring states, New York included. Currently there are 4 known SLF populations in upstate NY, a series of small populations in Broome County, two in Tompkins County, one in Onondaga County and a recent discovery in Erie County. SLF is becoming more widespread in downstate New York in the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island regions.
Spotted Lanternfly feed on the sap in plant stems using piercing-sucking, straw like mouthparts, they do not chew on either plant fruit or leaves. SLF are known to swarm feed on individual trees and plants and can weaken the plant making is susceptible to other environmental stressors and winter kill. Additionally, their excrement, known as honeydew, coats leaves, stems and anything beneath the tree. Honeydew is sticky, can grow sooty mold and attracts other insects making backyards, parks and play areas unusable. Fruit and other commodities become unmarketable.
Overwintering Spotted Lanternfly eggs hatch in May-June. Young SLF, called nymphs, go through a series of developmental stages, called instars, until they grow into adults. Adult female SLF lay eggs in the fall, completing the cycle. Egg masses can be laid on almost any hard outdoor surface.
Spotted Lanternflies spread rapidly by hitchhiking on vehicles like cars, trucks, trains, and on rare occasions, planes, and anything they transport. While all life stages of SLF can be spread via vehicles, most often it is either adults or egg masses hitching a ride. Now is the best time to be on the lookout, because SLF is in its adult stage and adults are laying eggs and hitching rides on vehicles, forming new populations.
What can you do to help stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly? People are being asked to inspect their vehicles and any items they are transporting, particularly if they are coming from an area where SLF is widespread (NYC, NJ, & PA). Adult SLF are 1 inch in length and can be identified by their black spots on their pink front wings and brightly colored hind wings. Egg masses are greyish white to pink or tan in color and about 1 inch long and wide, resembling a splotch of mud. If you see a Spotted Lanternfly at any life stage, please report it to spottedlanternfly@agriculture.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County