RALEIGH, N.C. — Although not known to be present yet in North Carolina, a new invasive insect pest known as spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has appeared in the Mid-Atlantic states over the past few years. This planthopper native to China is a destructive feeder and prolific breeder that damages both crops and landscape ornamentals.
Spotted lanternfly lays eggs on trees, particularly tree-of-heaven, which ironically is also an invasive species. In addition to tree-of-heaven, spotted lanternfly feeds on fruit trees, grapes, and many hardwood trees. It also has an unusual tendency to lay eggs on outdoor furniture, equipment, and vehicles. Because of this characteristic, there is a high risk that this insect can be unknowingly transported from locations where it is already established, such as Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and northern Virginia.
If you visit any of these areas, you may want to take a few extra minutes to inspect the outside of your vehicle before heading home. Look for gray egg masses, which are prevalent from October through June. Even if you aren’t traveling, keep an eye out around your home for spotted lanternfly and alert your county Extension center if you suspect that you’ve seen this pest. Visit NC State Extension’s spotted lanternfly resource page for more information.
–Matt Stevens, N.C. State University