Spotted Lanternfly Facts & Information
Protect your home or business from spotted lanternflies by learning techniques for identification and control.
What do spotted lanternflies look like?
Spotted lanternfly adults are approximately 1" long and 1/2" wide at rest. Spotted lanternfly adults and nymphs are easy to see during the day since they cluster near the base of plants they feed on. Most images typically show adult spotted lanternflies with their wings open and red underwings visible, but in nature, this only occurs when the spotted lanternfly is startled or ready to take flight.
How do I get rid of spotted lanternflies?
What Orkin Does
Orkin’s spotted lanternfly treatment includes inspections to look for nymphs and adults, sooty mold on trees, and egg masses. The presence and stage of spotted lanternflies will depend on the time of year. Our Orkin Pros work to disrupt the spotted lanternfly life cycle and prevent the spread outside the current infestation zones. They can also teach you how to check for and remove egg masses.
Orkin Pros are trained to help manage spotted lanternflies and similar pests. For more information on spotted lanternflies, call your local Orkin branch.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Understanding Spotted Lanternflies
What are spotted lanternflies?
Spotted Lanternflies are plant sap-sucking insects that are very destructive to plants they feed on. Spotted lanternflies were introduced to the US from their native areas of China, India, Vietnam, and eastern Asia. These insects were first detected in eastern Pennsylvania in September 2014 and have since spread to Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia. They are also classified as planthoppers in the order Hemiptera – which includes other pests including cicadas, common stink bugs, brown marmorated stink bugs, aphids, and leafhoppers.
Spotted Lanternfly Life Cycle
The life cycle of spotted lanternflies is divided into three stages: egg, 4 nymphal sub-stages, and adult. Spotted lanternflies typically lay their eggs from September to November. Spotted Lanternfly females prefer to lay their egg mass on a host tree; however, they also may deposit eggs on flat surfaces such as buildings, trailers, fence posts, outdoor furniture, and vehicles. Egg masses are typically about 1 ½ inches long and are brown or gray colored. The eggs are laid in groups of approximately 30-50 and then coated with gray wax that, when dry, can look like a splash of mud. This “camouflage” can make them difficult to notice.
During the first instar stage, which comes directly after they hatch, nymphs are approximately ¼” long with black and white spots. They can easily be mistaken for ticks. The second and third instar nymphs are also black with white spots. During the final fourth instar stage, nymphs take on a red coloration with white spots and can be up to ¾” in size. This stage is active from July through September; they then molt and become adults.
What do spotted lanternflies eat?
Spotted Lanternflies feed on many different host plants during their nymphal stages; however, their feeding preferences change as they mature. Nymphs will feed on a variety of host plants, while adults feed on only a few plant species. The Tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima, and willow trees are a couple of the Spotted Lanternflies most preferred hosts. Spotted lanternflies will also feed on trees like Dogwoods, Maple, Oak, Walnut, and several others.
A large spotted lanternfly infestation will cause a loss of plant vigor and can expose plants to disease. Many ornamental trees do not seem to be killed solely by spotted lanternfly feeding, but Tree-of-heaven plants and grapevines have been killed by large numbers of spotted lanternflies feeding.
How to Prevent Spotted Lanternfly Infestations
Eliminating spotted lanternfly eggs is one of the most effective ways to control this pest. Late Fall is a good time to look for and remove egg masses on trees, tree trunks and branches, rocks, and lawn furniture. Whenever egg masses are seen on your trees and/or plants, scrape off the egg mass into a bag or container filled with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Egg masses that are scraped to the ground without being collected and destroyed may still hatch, so it is important to completely destroy them.
Make sure to inspect outdoor items such as firewood, outdoor furniture, tree trunk branches, boats, and children’s toys that remain outside as they make also have spotted lanternfly egg masses.
Limit or Eliminate Host Trees
Limit the spread of Tree-of-Heaven plants. Young seedlings may be pulled or dug up; however, be sure to remove all roots and plant fragments. Tree injection with an approved herbicide is effective when applied during the summer. If warranted, leave some Tree of Heaven plants on your property to act as a “trap plant" to bait spotted lanternflies.
How to Control Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs
Controlling spotted lanternflies while they're nymphs-- after they've hatched until before they molt and become adults, is most effective if done from late April through early November. Tree banding using a sticky compound can capture nymphs as they climb tree trunks to feed. Tree bands should be inspected and replaced when no longer sticky or when covered with nymphal spotted lanternflies. Nymphs can also be controlled by spraying them with insecticides that are labeled for spotted lanternfly control.
Encourage Spotted Lanternfly Predators
Spotted lanternflies do not have many predators in the US. However, animals that may prey on spotted lanternflies include praying mantises, chickens, birds, ants, wasps, garden spiders, yellow jackets, wheel bugs, garter snakes, and koi fish.
What to Do When You Find a Spotted Lanternfly
If you find an insect that you suspect is a spotted lanternfly, call your Orkin Pro for help to identify the insect. If Orkin confirms your suspicions, contact the local University Extension Service or the State plant regulatory office. All confirmed sightings of spotted lanternfly adults, nymphs, and egg masses should be reported to your local University Extension Service or the State plant regulatory office.
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