Spotted Lanternfly

No Lantern Crop 

Pictured above is the Spotted Lanternfly in its adult stage (summer through frost). This new found pest is a spotted, brownish-grey plant hopper about 1" to 1¼" long. Plant Health Solutions is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on the Spotted Lanternfly Eradication Project throughout Berks County, where the pest was first detected, in efforts to limit the spread. 


The following photos labeled as "PHS photo" were taken by Arborists from Plant Health Solutions while working on the Spotted Lanternfly Eradication Project for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in 2017.


Tree 1

Adult Spotted Lanternfly feeding on a Cherry tree. (PHS photo)                                                 Spotted Lanternfly carcasses at the base of an Ailanthus trap tree one day after treatment. (PHS photo)


On September 22, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, confirmed the presence of the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in Berks County, Pennsylvania, the first detection of this non-native species in the United States.


Early detection is vital to the effective control of this pest and the protection of PA agriculture, natural resources-related businesses, and the health of trees on private residents properties.


Tree 2

Economically, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture states the pest poses a significant threat to the state’s more than $20.5 million grape, more than $24 million stone fruit, and nearly $134 million apple industries, as well as the hardwood industry in Pennsylvania which accounts for $12 billion in sales.

Residents have reported unsightly Spotted Lanternfly egg masses on lawn furniture, automobiles, campers, and children’s play equipment. In later life stages, the pests swarm around humans and will rest on any available surface, while also attacking landscape and trees.

Perhaps even more alarming, the leaves, stems, and trunks of trees may turn black from sooty mold, which grows on the honeydew from the feeding insects. The honeydew also attracts ants, wasps, and other insects that feed on the sweet substance.

The Spotted Lanternfly does not currently appear to have any natural enemies, such as birds and other predatory parasitic insects. Entomologists studying this pest are hoping that over time, some natural predators will come to the table, however at this time human intervention is required to combat these insects.

Adult Spotted Lanternfly feeding on a mature Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). (PHS photo)                                                                                                                                                                                         




Tree 3In early instar stages, the Spotted Lanternfly can be difficult to see.  The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborists at Plant Health Solutions have a great deal of experience locating these invasive pests on properties. If you suspect Spotted Lanternfly activity on your plant materials, Plant Health Solutions will perform a no cost property evaluation.

Adult Spotted Lanternfly prefer to feed on Ailanthus trees (pictured right), however, in areas where Spotted Lanternfly population is high, adults will feed heavily on other trees in the surrounding area as well. They tend to favor smooth barked trees for most of their feeding, including Willows, Maples, Poplars, Tulip Poplars, Birch, Ash, and many others. However, if you have Ailanthus trees, you should start searching for Spotted Lanternfly on those trees first.

Depending on the time of year, the level of infestation, and the proximity to large groups of Ailanthus trees, a number of control strategies could be implemented. Egg scraping, tree banding, tree removal, and selective trap tree spraying are all useful tools for combatting the Spotted Lanternfly on your property.



Adult Spotted Lanternfly feeding on a Crimson King Maple. (PHS photo)


Adult Spotted Lanternfly feeding on an Ash tree. More activity noted in the entire canopy (not pictured). (PHS photo)


 Adult Spotted Lanternfly feeding on a Walnut tree. (PHS photo)




Egg masses

Starting late September and continuing throughout the fall, the Spotted Lanternfly lay eggs in masses of 30 to 50 eggs that they cover in a brown, mud-like substance. Egg masses, approximately ¾"-1" wide and 1¼" - 2" long, may be found on many different adult host trees, moderately-sized boulders and other smooth surfaced outdoor items, such as lawn furniture, stone and brick work, and outdoor recreational vehicles.  These egg mass pose, perhaps, the greatest risk for accidental transport of the Spotted Lanternfly to new areas.


Spotted Lanternfly egg masses. (PHS photo) 


SL stages

In the spring, those eggs hatch into tiny, 1/8"-inch, black and white, non-flying feeding-machines called nymphs. As the spring progresses, the nymphs pass through four stages, or “instars,” getting a bit larger each time. The first three instars are black with white spots, the fourth instar stage is orange with black and white spots about ½"-long.

As eggs hatch in late April to mid-May, the early instar nymphs begin feeding on the new growth of trees and shrubs.  Fruit trees and grapes may be more susceptible to damage and mortality when larger populations of Spotted Lanternfly are found nearby. As the year progresses, third and fourth instar nymphs and adults may migrate to Ailanthus trees, as a primary host, and may be seen feeding on the trunk and branches of the tree. Once they become adults, the Spotted Lanternfly will pierce the bark on the trunk of the infested trees to feed on the sap. While a poor flyer, the adult Spotted Lanternfly is a strong jumper.

In the spring of 2017, the arborists at Plant Health Solutions noticed that trees which had been heavily fed upon by the adult Spotted Lanternfly the previous year were being severely attacked by ambrosia beetles, resulting in the death of the trees.




Spotted Lanternfly seen in different stages.



Please call today for a no cost evaluation if you suspect Spotted Lanternfly

activity or you have Ailanthus trees on your property.


Crimson King Maple one day after pesticide treatment. (PHS photo)