Most recently reviewed by: Pat Porter & Extension Entomologist at Overton (2021)
Common Name(s): Spotted lanternfly
Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), is an insect belonging to the family Fulgoridae, a group commonly referred to as fulgorid planthoppers. Insects from Fulgoridae use piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plants. As nymphs feed on plant tissues, the nymphs excrete large amounts of liquid, sugary waste called honeydew.
Spots are found on the bodies of the nymphs (immature stages that lack wings) and on the wings of adults, hence the name spotted lanternfly. In addition to the spots, spotted lanternflies have large hind legs that are used to jump much farther than the length of the insect’s body. Lastly, copious amounts of honeydew can be found where this insect feeds.
Origin and Distribution
Spotted lanternfly is native to China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam and is an invasive pest in the United States. In 2014, the first population was detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on a small number of acres. Since the initial discovery, populations of this pest have been found in other parts of the United States.
EDDMapS. 2021. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia – Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at http://www.eddmaps.org/; last accessed January 25, 2021.
Spotted lanternfly is not known to be in Texas as of this writing in 2021. Movement of spotted lanternfly most commonly occurs through transportation of plant and other materials with spotted lanternfly egg masses. However, when visiting areas with known spotted lanternfly populations, individuals should inspect their belongings and vehicles for spotted lanternfly nymphs and adults. Texas residents who think they have found spotted lanternflies should submit photos for identification here: https://askanentomologist.tamu.edu/insect-id-form/.
Habitat & Hosts
The exact extent to which spotted lanternfly can feed on native and non-native plant species is not known. However, a large number of plant species, including grape, walnut, elm, maple, and tree-of-heaven have been noted as hosts. Often, the number of plant species spotted lanternfly is feeding on decreases with each life stage though the exact reason is unknown (Liu 2019). Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle) is often considered a primary host for this species.
Egg masses, covered in a tan mud-like material, hatch in the spring, typically between April and May. On average, there are 30–50 eggs in each egg mass. The first nymphal stage emerges and is approximately 1/8 of an inch in length. In the first three nymphal stages, the insect is black with white spots and increases in size with each successive stage. In the fourth nymphal stage, the insect becomes red with black markings and white spots. The nymphs are present from April through July. As honeydew accumulates, sooty molds can develop on plant surfaces.
Adult emergence can begin as early as early June and continue through August. Adults are approximately 1 inch in length and ½ inch in width. Spotted lanternfly forewings are covered in black spots and have a pinkish tone while the hindwings are a bright red color. Adults continue feeding and excreting large amounts of honeydew with sooty mold development occurring often. Adults begin mating in late August and laying egg masses shortly thereafter while continuing to feed. Females will continue laying and covering egg masses until a freeze kills them. At present, only one generation per year is noted in the United States.
ManagementIf you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.
Control of this species is often limited to physical removal and destruction of egg masses in addition to removal of tree of heaven from the landscape. Some synthetic insecticides may provide control of spotted lanternfly. Always read the label of any insecticide before application.
If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas ,contact your local extension for management options.
Spotted Lanternfly. Pennsylvania State University. https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly
Spotted Lanternfly. Virginia Tech. https://ext.vt.edu/agriculture/commercial-horticulture/spotted-lanternfly
Liu, H. 2019. Oviposition substrate selection, egg mass characteristics, host preference, and life history of the spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in North America. Environmental Entomology. 48: 1452-1468.