Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) Spreading Fast

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) Spreading Fast

The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) arrived in Pennsylvania, United States in 2014 on a suspected shipment of stone from Asia. Though the most frequently blamed suspect is plant materials, many foreign invasive species actually arrive through unconventional methods such as pallet wood, packing materials, stone, and more.

Our nation becomes a lottery as pests randomly land in various states, causing major headaches. Our hearts go out to Pennsylvania and other surrounding states for having to battle such a pest and all other issues that come along with it.

The preferred feeding choice of this insect is Tree of Heaven; however, it eats just about any plant. It tends to favor fruiting plants. Affected industries include wineries, orchards and forests. The fruit industry in particular has been hard hit.

“Does Severe Cold Weather Kill This Insect?”

SLF-spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) 2nd and 3rd instar nymph (black), 4th instar nymph (red body) in Pennsylvania, on July 16, 2018. USDA-ARS Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

Unfortunately, no. These pests are extremely difficult to control. The adults will succumb to the cold, but unfortunately, the egg masses will not. This awful pest has a unique waxy coating that protects its egg masses from chemicals and oils, and extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold.

Its feeding habits are very destructive, leaving a sappy mess behind as evidence that can wreck outdoor items such as furniture, stain driveways, and vehicles. Other damage may affect home siding, roofs, and glass. Nymphs and adults feed on the plant sap, literally sucking the life out of them. The feeding damage aesthetically scars each plant, turning beautiful landscapes into an eye sore. In some cases, the pest’s feeding behaviors are enough to kill plants.

Spotted Lanternfly is On the Move

It is now been found in several states, including MA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, and VA. It is important to note that this insect does not move far on its own; it is rather transported, most often by firewood. Other avenues include – but are not limited to – vehicles, boats, plants, lumber, and other outdoor items.

Because of the multitude of ways the spotted lanternfly may be transferred, it is up to us to inspect these items before transporting or shipping them to other states outside of their quarantine zones.

Costing a Fortune

This pest is already causing multi-million dollar problems, and control efforts have been funded in the new farm bill. It is estimated that around $2.7 million dollars has been spent just for the state of Pennsylvania alone.

Research is also being funded to find better control strategies and resistance mechanisms that can be bred into plants. Unfortunately to date, there are no natural predators found that can control this pest.

Next Steps to Stop the Spread of Spotted Lanternfly

Plant Sentry™ is helping the effort by prompting all plant companies to think about pest, disease, and invasive species problems before shipments take place. Quarantined areas will require extra inspection and assessment before shipment can take place.

If we are to eliminate the spotted lanternfly and slow down its current movement considerably, it will take all hands on deck and available tools. Please do your part and be sure to inspect all outdoor items. If purchasing plants online, make sure you buy from a certified vendor.

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