Spotted Lanternfly

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Insect with a yellow and black body and red, white, and tan wings.
Spotted lanternfly

Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

What is the spotted lanternfly (SLF) and what does it do?

Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive insect native to China, India, and Vietnam.

Once established in an area, SLF has the potential to dramatically affect forest ecosystems, agricultural production, and cultural resources. Although SLF has a preference for feeding on the exotic tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), it is an indiscriminate pest and will feed on over 70 different plant species.

It impacts its host directly by extracting plant sap from young leaves and stems. In the process, it excretes a sugary liquid (honeydew) that attracts other insects and promotes the growth of black sooty mold, which can negatively affect plant growth and cause secondary fungal infections.

What does the spotted lanternfly look like?

View the life stages of the spotted lanternfly:
 
Life stages of back, white, and red insect

NPS Photo/Shenandoah National Park

Top left corner: 1st stage of spotted lanternfly life cycle.
Top right corner: As the lanternfly matures, it becomes red with black and white patches.
Bottom row: Adult spotted lanternfly.

 
Brownish tan lump on tree trunk Brownish tan lump on tree trunk

Left image
Credit: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Right image
Credit: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

The image on the left is an egg mass covered with a protective coating that can look like a smudge of concrete. The image on the right is an egg mass either right before or right after hatching.

 

Has the spotted lanternfly been confirmed in the park?

No, SLF has not been confirmed in the park. It has been confirmed in Jefferson County, West Virginia just outside of the park, and a quarantine for SLF is in effect in Frederick, Clarke, and Warren counties, Virginia; and Cecil and Harford counties, Maryland, which are in the park’s surrounding area.

What does the spotted lanternfly impact?

SLF impacts are greatest in the agricultural and hardwood production industries. Large infestations of SLF can dramatically reduce grape, apple, and hop yields, as well as damage economically important hardwood trees including maple, black walnut, cherry, and birch.

SLF feeding causes stress to its plant host, which can lead to secondary infections and pest problems, stunted growth, reduced yields, and death in extreme cases. Unlike emerald ash borer, another invasive insect pest in our region, SLF feeding does not directly kill its host. As a result, SLF does not have the same potential impact on natural ecosystems and trees as the emerald ash borer.

How does the spotted lanternfly spread?

Unfortunately, human action is currently the main factor helping spread SLF in the U.S. People can unknowingly move the inconspicuous egg masses over long distances when moving plants (e.g. nursery trade), firewood, construction and shipping materials (e.g. stone, lumber, wood crates), outdoor household articles (e.g. grills, mowers, furniture) or recreational vehicles.

It’s vital that anyone visiting or traveling through a quarantined area is aware of the risks of spreading SLF and takes extra precautions:

  • If you are traveling from an SLF quarantine area, inspect your vehicle, camper or trailer for attached egg masses before you leave for the park.
  • If you find any SLF before your visit to the park, remove and dispose of them by following the advice in the linked resources below.
  • If you're visiting campgrounds in the surrounding area, please don’t bring outside firewood. Use only area sources, dead and down wood, or USDA pest-free certified firewood.

What is the park doing about the spotted lanternfly?

While SLF has not been confirmed in the park, staff are taking proactive steps. Planning is underway to identify and reduce the number of primary host trees through invasive plant management methods. Tree-of-heaven, the SLF’s preferred host tree, is an invasive plant species.

 

What can I do?

If you make a positive identification of SLF, please notify the appropriate state using their reporting methods:

  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia: Email to bugbusters@wvda.us with your name, contact information, where you made the sighting, the date of the sighting, and a photo.

How to report SLF sightings

The report links above require the following information:

  • Date

  • Life stage: eggs, 1st stage, 2nd stage, adult (see above images)

  • Host plant (if known)

  • How many

  • Image(s)

  • Location

 

Main Park Locations

If you believe you have sighted spotted lanternfly within the park, please email us the above information, along with the park location. Please also report to the appropriate state using the above instructions.

  • GPS: 39.323852789930335, -77.73018469912309 
  • City, County, State, Zip: Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV 25425 
  • Popular locations street addresses: 
  • GPS: 39.320507784326026, -77.71093680096578 

  • Address: 210400 Jefferson Pike, Purcellville, Loudoun County, VA 20132 

 
  • GPS: 39.3216956806, -77.7432835354
  • Address: junction of Highway 340 and Shenandoah St., Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV 25425 
  • GPS: 39.3166667, -77.7563888889
  • Address: 171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV 25425
 

Where can I learn more about the spotted lanternfly?

Last updated: November 17, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425

Phone:

304 535-6029

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