If you haven’t heard of lanternflies and more specifically spotted lanternflies, you probably aren’t alone as they are a relatively new species of insect in Pennsylvania. The lanternfly, which is an invasive species native to China, was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since their first sighting in 2014, these pests have spread throughout 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania! Learning more about these new invasive pests is especially important because it is the first population that has been discovered outside of Asia and according to Dr. Calvin from Penn State University, the spotted lanternfly poses a “significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, landscapes, and natural ecosystems.” The professionals at Witt Pest Management want to provide our customers with helpful information about these damaging pests, including what to do if you spot them on your property.
In order to protect your Pennsylvania property from a lanternfly infestation, you first need to be able to identify what they look like. Adult spotted lanternflies grow to be about 1 inch long and ½ inch wide when their wings are at rest. Their forewings are gray with black spots and their wingtips are patterned with small, reticulated black blocks outlined in gray; their hindwings have distinct patches of red and black with a white band. Immature lanternflies look similar to adults except they are smaller and are black with white spots; their red patches develop as they grow and mature into adults. Another way to identify you have lanternflies are on your property is by discovering their eggs masses. In the late fall, the adult lanternflies lay their eggs in masses on trees, the exteriors of buildings, outdoor furniture, stones, and other flat surfaces. These eggs masses are unique looking and are covered in a grey mud-like material that will dry out and become cracked over time.
Now that you know what lanternflies look like, you need to know where some of the common places they can be found living and feeding. Lanternflies are described as invasive plant-hoppers and therefore have the potential to become very dangerous to a variety of plants, trees, and other vegetation in Pennsylvania, but they are considered to be an especially significant threat to the grape growing industry. In fact, Dr. Calvin from Penn State has described them as a threat to the “grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries; and also a threat to outdoor recreation, backyard enjoyment, and biodiversity”. Lanternflies cause extensive damage to plants because, as they use their specialized feeding mouthparts to pierce and feed on the vine trunks, shoots, and leaves of plants, they secrete a very large amount of honeydew – a sweet sticky substance that can lead to severe mold outbreaks; the plants and trees that lanternflies feed on will also be left with open, weeping wounds
Lanternfly populations are at their highest in the spring, summer, and early fall when their food sources are plentiful. If you have discovered or even just think you have discovered these highly-invasive pests on your property, it is extremely important to contact the pest professionals at Witt Pest Management immediately so that these crop-destroying pests can be eliminated and be prevented from spreading even more. Lanternflies are destructive pests that cannot be allowed to spread throughout Pennsylvania or to the surrounding states, so working together to contain them is imperative, contact Witt Pest Management at the first sight of lanternflies on your Pennsylvania property!