The Dangers Of Spotted Lanternflies

Spotted Lanternfly sitting on bark

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species of planthopper that poses a serious threat to agriculture. Learn why the lanternfly is dangerous and how to identify the pest and prevent its spread.

What Are Spotted Lanternflies?

The spotted lanternfly is a planthopper that is native to China. First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, the insect gets its name from the spots on its wings, which are used to attract mates. 

How To Identify Spotted Lanternflies

Spotted lanternflies are about 1 inch long and have a wingspan of 2 inches. Their hind wings are bright red with black spots, while the front wings are transparent with black markings near the edge.

What Do Spotted Lanternflies Eat?

Spotted lanternflies feed on the sap of plants. This includes trees, shrubs, and vines. Some of their favorite foods are grapes, apples, peaches, and cherries. When they feed on these plants, they can cause extensive damage. Their feeding can also lead to the plant producing less fruit. 

Where Can Spotted Lanternflies Be Found?

Spotted lanternflies are native to China, India, and Vietnam. They were first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, they have been found in Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts, though there have been confirmed sightings in countless other states.

How Do Spotted Lanternflies Spread?

Spotted lanternflies can spread in a few different ways. 

  • They can fly long distances, up to 100 miles in a single day. 
  • They can also hitchhike on vehicles that are moved from one place to another. 
  • Finally, they can be transported in shipments of plants or other goods

Why Are Spotted Lanternflies Dangerous?

Spotted lanternflies are dangerous because they cause a significant amount of damage to crops and other plants. The insects feed on the sap of plants, which can weaken and kill the plant.

In their native country of China, they have already caused billions of dollars in damage to crops. If they are not controlled, they could cause similar damage in the United States. 

Spotted Lanternfly Damage

Signs for spotted lanternfly damage include:

  • Wilting or dying plants
  • Holes in leaves
  • Sticky sap on plants

In addition to damaging vegetation and crops, the spotted lanternfly also secretes large amounts of honeydew, which can attract other pests and lead to the growth of sooty mold.

Are Spotted Lanternflies Harmful To Humans?

No, spotted lanternflies are not harmful to humans. However, they can be a nuisance. They are attracted to light, so they may congregate around doors and windows.

What Can Be Done About Spotted Lanternflies?

There are a few things that can be done to control spotted lanternflies: 

  • One is to remove any egg masses that you find. 
  • Another is to trap or kill the adults.

You can also try to prevent them from spreading by inspecting vehicles and other objects before moving them from one place to another.

Reporting A Spotted Lanternfly

If you think you have spotted a lanternfly, it is important to report it immediately. This will help them track the spread of the insect and take steps to control it. We highly recommend you report a sighting by calling your state's Department of Agriculture. 

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