Sightings of this invasive newcomer to North America warrant at least a photo, and certainly a phone call to your local extension agent.
The Spotted Lanternfly is not an actual fly. It is a planthopper native to Asia that arrived in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since been seen in some neighboring states. It is a pest insect because of its feeding habits as well as its secretions. Spotted Lanternflies and their young nymphs pierce the soft tissue of plants like stems and new twigs in order to suck the nutritious juices from the plant. In large numbers, such feeding eventually deprives the plant of needed nourishment which can stunt its growth, crimp the amount of fruit produced, or even kill the plant. Popular fruit trees like apple, peach, plum, cherry, and nectarine are victims to this insect. Grape vines and cucumber plants are also affected as are oak, maple, willow, sycamore, pine, and almond trees. In addition to siphoning juices, the Spotted Lanternfly secretes a sweet, sticky waste called honeydew that attracts ants and wasps. Honeydew can become mildewy and leave a black, sooty film on all parts of the plant. This film hinders a leaf's ability to absorb sunlight, weakening its photosynthetic efforts. Measures to discover populations and control them are already underway in the states where sightings have occurred.
A Spotted Lanternfly adult is an attractive insect. It has rounded wings that are tan with big black spots on the upper two-thirds. The lower part of the wings has a small black brick-like pattern on it. When closed, there may appear to be a pink hue on the forewings because of the bold red color on the wings underneath. If its wings are spread open flat, one can see large black dots on a bright red inner wing, as well as a white band and black bottom edge. Nymphs are small and do not have wings yet. A glossy body may be black with white spots, or red and black with white spots. The front legs seem much longer than the others, acting more like stilts that help elevate the head above the round body.
If you encounter either adult or nymph Spotted Lanternflies, try to capture the insect(s) or at least a take photo, making a note of its location. Notify the extension agent in your county, or the state's department of agriculture to make them aware of your finding. It may be valuable information that can help stop, or at least limit, the spread of this agricultural pest.
Scientific Name: Lycorma delicatula
Other Name(s): Spot Clothing Wax Cicada
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 25mm (0.78in to 0.98in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.