The Spotted Lanternfly Invasion: A Call to Action for Awareness


Don’t be fooled by the beauty of this insect. The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has emerged as a significant threat to agriculture and ecosystems, particularly in the United States. Its given common name is misleading because it is by no means related to any type of fly. When it spreads its wings, it looks like a moth. Yet, it is not related to moth either. The Spotted Lanternfly is in the family of planthoppers. They are more closely related to cicadas, brown marmorated stink bugs, aphids, and leafhoppers.

Adult Spotted lanternfly resting on grape leaf

Native to Asia, this invasive insect was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread rapidly to neighboring states.

Its ability to feed on a wide range of plants, coupled with its lack of natural predators, makes it a formidable pest that demands urgent attention. The Spotted Lanternfly poses a significant threat to home gardens and particularly agriculture, with a preference for fruit trees, hardwoods, and grapevines. Feeding on sap from these plants weakens them, making them susceptible to diseases and other pests.

To combat its spread, we must increase our awareness of its presence in our environment.


The Spotted Lanternfly is easily recognizable by its distinctive appearance. Adult insects have a wingspan of about one inch and display vibrant colors, featuring forewings that are brown with black spots and hindwings that are bright red with black spots. In their nymph stage, they are smaller and black with white spots. Understanding these characteristics is essential for early detection.

Without natural predators to control their population, these invasive insects can quickly become a dominant force in their environment, leading to cascading effects throughout the ecosystem.

The following is the life cycle of the Spotted Lantern Fly:

Spotted Lantern Fly Life Cycle
(image source: Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)


Preventing the Spread: Awareness is a crucial component of preventing the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly. You can take simple yet effective steps to help mitigate the invasion.

  1. Identification and Reporting: Learn to identify the Spotted Lanternfly in both its adult, eggs, and nymph stages. If you spot one, let us know.
  2. Inspecting Vehicles and Outdoor Items: Before traveling, especially across state lines, inspect vehicles, outdoor furniture, and other items for egg masses or live insects. Remove and destroy any potential carriers.

    Spotted lanternfly laying egg sacks
    Spotted lanternfly laying egg sacks on various outdoor surfaces
  3. Destroying Egg Masses: Egg masses, which resemble a gray, putty-like substance, can be found on various surfaces. Scrape them off and destroy them to prevent the hatching of nymphs.

By familiarizing ourselves with the insect’s appearance, understanding its impact, and actively participating in prevention strategies, we can collectively work towards mitigating the threat it poses to agriculture, ecosystems, and our communities. For more information on our Spotted Lanterfly management program, please read here.


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