Ohio's Newest Invasive Insect:

The Spotted Lanternfly

What is the Spotted Lanternfly?

Indigenous primarily in parts of China, India, and Vietnam, the Spotted Lanternfly has made its way to the United States. Recognized as an invasive species, here is what you need to know about this pest, how to identify it, and what to do.

The Spotted Lanternfly (Pieris brassicae) is a microscopic fly native to East Asia. It can be identified by the typical color pattern of its body (yellow to orange), and red spots on the wings.

Originally thought to be a minor pest, the species is now considered a threat to agriculture. The fly has been found feeding on over 20 different crops including the Christmas tree, various vine crops and orchards, hops, walnuts, peaches, apples, blueberries, grapes, grapes, peaches, pears, pears, plums, figs, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes.

Spotted lanternfly Lycorma delicatula, an invasive pest, holds its wings open, exposing its bright red underwing

Where is it & how did it get here?

The Spotted Lanternfly (Peripatopsops occidentalis) has been found across the United States. Spotted lanternflies feed on more than 200 native plant species. This non-native pest has the potential to cause devastating damage to the foliage on hundreds of trees and plants. These insects can quickly infest an entire tree and can also hide within tree bark to reproduce.

What are they known to do?

The Spotted Lanternfly lays egg masses on a wide range of foliage, including fruit, acorns, and shrubs. It then uses the eggs as a form of human transportation, distributing them to new areas and, in turn, to other tree species. Spotted lanternflies can also feed on rotting wood, creating more favorable conditions for the spread of disease.

How do I identify a Spotted Lanternfly?

This insect resembles many of the native Lepidoptera, but there are some key differences. This pest has a similar color scheme to the Visigoth butterfly, but it doesn't have the spines along its hind legs. Also, unlike the butterfly, its upperside is brown with yellow patches. It doesn't have any bristles or long hairs on its abdomen.

What are the effects of Spotted Lanternfly on North American agriculture?

Spotted Lanternfly populations can severely damage the profits that American growers and farmers make. It has also affected growers in Pennsylvania's agricultural area. The insect's larvae feed on the leaves and growth of trees, fruits, vines, and hops, and damages trees, garages, and other structures in its path.

Spotted Lanternfly nymphs on Sumac Tree
Spotted Lanternfly eggs on a tree in spring

What are the effects of the Spotted Lanternfly?

In a single year, adult spotted lanternflies can lay up to 600 eggs per female, which can be found in private gardens, parks, and even on vehicles. These eggs stay dormant until the adults emerge in the spring to mate, and lay eggs in cracks and crevices in trees, buildings, and on vehicles. While the egg masses are small, they can easily hatch into gnats. After emerging, adults tend to be a nuisance in those areas they're attracted to, laying their egg masses around the structures where they've laid eggs.

How do you get it?

Eggs can be found in dead and decaying leaves, on tree bark, and from glue used to seal dead wood. They're most often found in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Maryland, where they were first detected in 2016.

What are some ways to control the Spotted Lanternfly population?

No matter where you live in Ohio, you can do a couple things to reduce your risk of having this pest in your home and garden:

Avoid or remove as many crevices as possible, especially in attics, utility boxes, and other unscreened spaces where the Spotted Lanternfly can lay eggs. Tuck-away screens, covering the holes in your home, help but don't completely remove the problem.

Install or repair screens to any vent or crawl space that cannot be easily sealed. Be sure to avoid using chemical products around your home, since these are also very flammable. See our video on how to seal a crawl space safely to learn more.

Close-up of spotted lanternfly Lycra delicately sitting on tree, an invasive species

Invasive species are a problem, but they don't have to be. Citizens, organizations, and government agencies can help identify and fight invasive species before they wreak havoc on our environment.

Identifying symptoms, such as discoloration of wood, swelling, and infection by the Spotted Lanternfly, are not necessarily indicators of infestation. If you observe these symptoms, contact your local Ohio Department of Agriculture office immediately.

Call today to start your pest control plan.