The spotted lanternfly is a pest from Asia that has a life cycle that lasts the entire year. When fully grown, this pest will take the beautiful fruit tree in your front yard and reduce it to a dead stump. The spotted lanternfly feeds on trunks, branches, and twigs while leaving behind a black trail as its only marker of presence. Luckily, it doesn’t directly harm people, but it does excrete honeydew that can attract other harmful pests to the area.
How to Identify Spotted Lanternflies
Do you think you have spotted lanternflies? There are a few distinguishable characteristics.
- Approximately 1" long and 1/2" wide
- Blackhead and black legs with a yellow abdomen and broad black bands
- Immature stages are black with white spots and develop red patches as they grow
- The forewing is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey
- The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band
Spotted Lanternfly's Life Cycle
Mating occurs in late August, and egg-laying in September through the first freeze. Females lay one or two egg masses containing 30 to 60 eggs laid out in rows and will lay their eggs anywhere, including rocks, trees, sides of houses, and even your lawn furniture. She covers her eggs with a creamy-white substance and then the eggs hatch during the first signs of spring when these little terrors begin to mobilize.
Spotted Lanternfly Behavior
Spotted Lanternflies are athletic little creatures. They can use their powerful hind legs to jump and fly short distances. They are able to walk, jump or fly up to four miles before flying into the windows of vehicles, hopping on the back of trucks, resting on the side of firewood, and/or hitchhiking on the outside of motor homes and recreational vehicles. These unwanted pests know how to get around and will stop at nothing to do so.
How Do Spotted Lanternfly's Spread?
Spotted lanternfly's originally came to the U.S. on cargo ships from China. They were first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014. Spotted lanternfly eggs are laid on the bark of trees and smooth, man-made objects. The insect moves over long distances when trees containing eggs are cut and transported. Always check your firewood for any stages of this insect and be cautious about moving plant material in general.