An Invasive Pest New to the US
Native to China, India, and Vietnam, the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) was first discovered in the Eastern United States in September 2014. By the spring of 2015, arborists in eastern Pennsylvania began getting calls about a new pest on their client’s trees.
Alarmed homeowners reported up to hundreds of strange but curiously beautiful creatures congregating on their trees’ trunks. While there have been cases of spotted lanternfly killing trees, the real concern is with the vast amounts of honeydew the insect produces. This sticky material that covers nearly everything under the affected plant is a nuisance to humans. It attracts stinging pests like bees and wasps and leads to an unsightly black sooty mold fungus.
Since that time, infestations have been found in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia, with new infestations being discovered each year. Within the insect’s native range, predators and natural population checks keep the spotted lanternfly from being a considerable threat. In the US, however, the lack of these checks and an abundance of preferred host plants have allowed populations of spotted lanternfly to reach unprecedented levels.
Threat to Trees and Crops
On Tree-of-Heaven, its preferred host, trees can die within 2-4 years after the initial attack. Once thought to be a pest of only Tree-of-Heaven, it is now clear that spotted lanternfly has a wide host range that includes many high-value economic crops as well as ornamental trees.
Most trees can withstand small groups of spotted lanternfly feeding, but populations quickly build to hundreds or thousands of insects covering an individual tree. Spotted lanternfly infestations have led to significant damage to trees, are a growing threat to agricultural crops, and an overall nuisance in the landscape.
A New Protocol Needed
Since spotted lanternfly’s discovery in 2014, Rainbow has conducted numerous field research trials across the east coast and performed in-depth data analysis to develop a new management protocol. We continue to partner with universities and industry scientists to look at application methods, active ingredients, timing, rates, and how best to improve operational efficiencies.
Download our complete Spotted Lanternfly Management Guide, a comprehensive resource that includes management and treatment options!