Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist
A new invasive insect species from Asia, the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, was discovered last month in Pennsylvania. Despite its name, this insect is not a true fly but is actually a type of planthopper which is related to aphids, leafhoppers, cicadas and similar insects.
Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture
Photo 1: Spotted Lanternfly. Note spots on most of the wing and the lacey pattern on the wing tips.
A spotted lanternfly is a large insect, measuring about one and a half inches long. It is very distinctly colored and patterned. About 2/3 of the forewing is a light gray with small oval, black spots. The wing tips have a series of tiny rectangular black spots that give it a lacey appearance. The hind wings, when exposed, are brightly colored orange-red, black and white.
There are some native insects that could be confused with a spotted lanternfly, especially tiger moths and underwing moths which also can have red hind wings. However, moths are much better fliers compared to a spotted lanternfly. Moths also do not jump while a spotted lanternfly (and other planthoppers) are good jumpers.
The spotted lanternfly is known to attack about 65 different plant hosts in Korea, especially tree of heaven and grapes. It is also known to attack plants in the same genera as apple, willow, oak, lilac, rose, maple, poplar, and pine. Spotted lanternflies (like other planthoppers) damages plants by using its needle-like mouthparts to feed on plant sap.
It is unclear what the potential for damage would be if this insect becomes established in Minnesota. While there are many plants on which they are known to feed that are present in this state, a key to their ability to infest an area seems to hinge on the presence of tree of heaven which is not a native to Minnesota. In fact only one specimen is presently known to occur in the state. The question then is whether this insect could thrive on other plants. Time will tell.
If you find an insect that you believe is a spotted lanternfly, report it to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on their Arrest the Pest line by calling 1-888-545-6684 (voicemail) or e-mailing them at Arrest.the.Pest@state.mn.us.
Click here for more information on spotted lanternflies.