The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant hopper that is native to China and likely arrived in North America hidden on goods imported from Asia. Juvenile spotted lanternflies, known as nymphs, and adults prefer to feed on the invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) but also feed on a wide range of crops and plants, including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees. The insects suck sap from stems and branches which can weaken and damage the plant. This feeding also leaves behind a sticky, sugary residue called honeydew that attracts other insects and promotes the growth of sooty mold, which can further damage the plant.
Spotted lanternfly is a hitchhiking pest. It lays eggs on almost any surface, including vehicles, trailers, outdoor equipment, and patio furniture, and can be spread long distances when people move infested material. If allowed to spread in the United States, it could impact the country’s fruit, ornamental, and forest industries. Early detection is critical to prevent economic and ecological losses. The public has played a key role in detecting spotted lanternfly and success of stopping its spread depends on help from the public to look for and report signs of the pest.
Spotted lanternfly was first detected in North America in 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Soon after its discovery, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) established a State quarantine in the affected area to restrict the pest’s movement. Subsequently, USDA confirmed single spotted lanternfly detections in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York in 2017 and 2018. USDA also confirmed localized spotted lanternfly infestations in Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware in 2018. USDA is working with State cooperators to detect, control, and suppress spotted lanternfly, and help to safeguard American agriculture and natural resources.
National Policy Manager