What is a spotted lanternfly?

September 9, 2020

The leaves are turning, and the evenings are cooler. Fall is on the way. Like so many of us, that love the warm sunny days, pests and wildlife are looking for a winter home. The spotted lanternfly is no exception.

Do not be fooled by its name or its spots. The spotted lanternfly is a dangerous and destructive insect to hardwood trees such as maple, fruit trees, and hops.

What is the spotted lanternfly?

The spotted lanternfly is a threat to agriculture and agribusiness in New York. Often mistaken as a stink bug when their wings are closed, they can be found in NYS orchards, logging, and other farm crops. As described by the USDA, “Adults are about an inch long by a half-inch wide, with large, visually striking wings. Forewings are light brown with black spots in front and a speckled band at the rear. Hind wings are scarlet with black spots in front and white and black bars at the rear. The abdomen is yellow with black bars.”

Further described by pestworld.org, the author explains:

Spotted lanternflies get their name from the distinguishable black spots on their front wings as adults. Adult SLF has spotted forewings that cover brightly- colored hind wings. Spotted lanternfly nymphs are usually 1/8 to 1/2 inch in size with white-spotted, black bodies changing to bright red coloration in older nymphs. Adults are larger than nymphs, around 1 inch in length and an inch and a half wide when wings are spread. The adults are typically easier to find because of their size, coloration, and increased mobility.

Often referred to as a fly, but looks like a moth, these invasive pests are Hemiptera and are related to walking stick bugs. SLF’s have piercing appendages in their mouths that are used to drain sap and moisture from plants and trees. They have few natural enemies.

exterminators in Saratoga county NY

A black and yellow orb-weaver spider spins a web around its current victim – a spotted lanternfly

How do I know if I have spotted lanternflies?

These unique pests are more mobile as jumpers or walkers, rather than fliers…even though they have wings. Their preferred place to nest is on any hard surface such as your home, trees, rocks, or other structures. They lay up to 40-60 gray flattened eggs at a time creating a foamlike mass. SLF’s have begun the egg-laying cycle and it will continue into the late fall. The egg masses are visible on trees and property. It is suggested that if you find an egg mass that you scrape it off the surface and double bag the eggs. Contact us for further assistance.

Homeowners are urged to inspect their cars, grills, camping equipment, and boats & trailers when traveling and returning to New York. They are transported inter-state on the underside of trucks, RVs, and cars. Often dismissed, invasive species have penetrated New York waterways, lakes, and forests when unknowingly transported into the state. They are considered an invasive species in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia.

Are spotted lanternflies dangerous to humans and pets?

Spotted lanternflies are not dangerous to people or pets. They do not bite or sting. They are extremely destructive and in mass, can be a nuisance when congregating in large numbers.

If you find any spotted lanternflies, please contact us or:

For up-to-date information on the spotted lanternfly, go to https://nysipm.cornell.edu/environment/invasive-species-exotic-pests/spotted-lanternfly/

Anyone who thinks they may have found a spotted lanternfly or an egg mass should immediately contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by emailing: spottedlanternfly@dec.ny.gov

Still unsure if you have spotted lanternflies?

No worries! Contact us for a free inspection. It is important for you and for our environment to be sure if these invasive insects have indeed arrived in the capital region counties.

Resources: Cornell Cooperative Extension (Sullivan County); https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/38649/20190511/spotted-lanternfly-spotted-in-8-ny-counties ; https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/occasional-invaders/spotted-lanternfly/

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