Spotted: Lycorma Delicatula in Maine
Over the past few weeks in the industry, news outlets have been reporting a new and surprising find in the state of Maine, the Lycorma delicatula. This pest is better known as the Spotted Lanternfly.
While the insect is not a fly at all, but rather a plant hopper, it has made its way around the globe through its ability to attach itself and its eggs to trees, pallets, stones, and other materials that are often shipped.
This pest first arrived in the U.S. to the state of Pennsylvania in 2014 on a shipment from Asia. Since then the insect has also infiltrated several states within the U.S. including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. While individual findings have also been sighted in Massachusetts and North Carolina, there is no identified establishment of the insect. 
While the pest prefers the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) they are also known to “settle” for about 70 other plant species. These other species include varieties that produce fruit as well as trees that are often used for timber. 
The pests destroy the plants they inhabit by feeding heavily on them and result in the trees oozing sap, leaves curling, and to suffer from dieback (progressive death of the twigs, shoots, and branches of the tree). The damage that the insects cause makes it easier for secondary pests to come in and kill the tree after the lanterfly has significantly weakened them.
Another way that this pest damages plants is in the sugary substance called ‘honeydew’ that they leave behind while feeding. The residue attracts ants, actual flies, and other insects that feed on the substance.
The pest is believed to have arrived in the state of Maine through trees from the state of Pennsylvania, as these trees are where the eggs masses have been identified. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has identified that the egg masses were found on the trees, but hatched adult stages of the insect have not been spotted.
The grown insects are about an inch long with a greyish brown body. They have black spots on their wings, and red underwings. Their egg masses are rectangular with a yellow-brown-grey wax coating on them. The eggs are about an inch long and may be found on any flat surface.
They are asking residents of the state to keep their eyes open for sightings of eggs or adult versions of the pest. Any sightings should be reported to [email protected].
While the state of Maine continues to seek out every nook and cranny for the pests, in other states, scientists are working diligently to identify solutions against them.
Some states have begun breeding predatory species to combat the pest, while others are looking to treatment solutions. But, ultimately the question is being raised as to if, when, and how these pests may spread and affect more states.
For treatments, natural resolutions such as Neem oil are effective in discouraging the insects. However, for an abundance of them chemical treatment methods may be more effective.
While scientists continue to search for effective solutions, quarantine protocols and thorough inspections are essential to preventing the spread.
To learn more how we can help protect you from the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly be sure to contact us below!