Egg masses can be found on or around host trees until the eggs hatch in the late spring. Egg masses are muddy-grey in colour, and can be hard to distinguish from light grey Ailanthus bark. Egg masses can be at all heights on the tree, or on surrounding rocks, patio furniture, and vehicles.
Spotted lanternfly feeds by piercing the bark to access phloem and sap. This can cause sap to flow down the bark of the tree, resulting in dark streaks appearing on damaged trees. A heavy infestation can cause the buildup of honeydew secretions at the base of a host tree, which can become covered in a sooty-coloured mold. In addition, the exposed sap and honeydew may attract bees and wasps to infested trees.
In the fall, adult insects can be found congregating on host trees, especially on Ailanthus.
Photo: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture
Spotted lanternfly covered egg mass (bottom), adult (center), uncovered egg mass (top).
Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org
Build-up of honeydew secretions at the base of a tree, a sign of a heavy spotted lanternfly infestation.
The spotted lanternfly is native to Southern Asia, including China, India, Japan, and Vietnam. Recently, it has become a problematic invasive pest in South Korea.
The first North American detection occurred in October 2014 in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. As of September 2015, quarantined areas exist within Berks County, Pennsylvania (see map).
Map: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2015
Map: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2015
Due to the recent detection and limited distribution of SLF in North America, impacts have not been widespread. Feeding damage in PA from adults has been observed on Ailanthus and Salix, although no tree mortality has been reported. Literature from Korea reports that the nymphs do the most damage, feeding on and destroying grape vines and other hosts in mass. In addition, due to SLF’s wide range of hosts during immature life stages, it has the potential to result in widespread damage on a broad range of species.
In Pennsylvania where this pest has been detected, impacts on the economy are possible. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (2014) stated that the spotted lanternfly “poses a significant threat to the state’s more than $20.5 million grape, nearly $134 million apple, and more than $24 million stone fruit industries. Pine and hardwood logging in Pennsylvania also accounts for $12 billion in sales.”
Similar economic concerns exist if this pest were to establish itself in Ontario. Ontario has a prominent wine and grape industry, with a total economic impact of $3.3 billion (see infographic; Frank, Rimerman & Co. LLP, 2013), including impacts on jobs, taxes, and tourism. In addition, Ontario’s $43 million tender fruit industry (including peaches, pears, plums, and nectarines) (Ontario Tender Fruit Producer’s Marketing Board, 2014), $60 million apple industry (Ontario Apple Growers, 2015), and $1 billion logging industry (NRCan, 2012) are all threatened by the potential arrival of the spotted lanternfly.
As the spotted lanternfly was only recently introduced to North America, little is known about the extent of damage that it will cause. Although it is too early to make accurate predictions on actual economic impacts, the wine and grape, tender fruit, apple, and forestry industries are at the greatest risk.
2013 Report, Canada's Wine Economy - Ripe, Robust, Remarkable. Commissioned by the Canadian Vinters Association, the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, the BC Wine Institute, and Winery Association of Nova Scotia.
The spotted lanternfly attacks many important agricultural trees and plants, including the grapevine. If this invasive species were to establish in Ontario, it would threaten the $3.3 Billion wine industry.
Impacts to ecosystems may be less significant than impacts to agricultural areas, but are still possible. Damage on tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), the main host of the adult spotted lanternfly, is of low ecological concern – Ailanthus is a non-native tree species originating from China and is frequently the focus of other control and eradication efforts. However, the potentially susceptible host trees also include native species, such as willows, maples, and poplar. The extent of impacts on these species is unknown, as spotted lanternfly has only recently been detected in North America, but could have negative overall impacts on forest health. Even if SLF does not cause tree mortality, the stress induced from an infestation can weaken a trees defenses, and make it more vulnerable to attack from other insect or pathogen species.
The spotted lanternfly threatens vineyards and fruit orchards, which can result in significant social impacts if the insect becomes established. For example, popular summer activities could be impacted, such as apple picking, enjoying fresh produce from farmer’s markets, or wine tasting at local vineyards.
In addition, buildup of egg masses and insect secretions (honeydew) can cause damage patio furniture, garden ornaments, and cars.
This insect can also impact the aesthetic value of healthy forests, by causing dark streaks of sap to appear on the bark of impacted trees, and the growth of dark sooty-coloured mold on honeydew secretions.
Photo: Phil Bull, Geograph project (Wikimedia commons)
The spotted lanternfly threatens many species of orchard trees. In addition to threatening the industry, there are potential social impacts including impacts on summer activities such as apple picking, enjoying fresh produce from farmer’s markets, or wine tasting at local vineyards
Until more is known about this insect and its threat to Ontario and the rest of Canada, management efforts should focus on awareness and education. This will increase the chances of early detection and control of the spotted lanternfly if it arrives here.
Quarantine zones have been established in PA to limit distribution, slow the spread, and possibly eradicate SLF.
Initially, 6 townships within Berks County quarantined or quarantine pending in PA (as of November 2014): Pike, District, Rockland, Washington, Earl and Hereford. This was later expanded to include Topton, Long Swamp, Bally, Bechtelsville, and Colebrookdale (September 2015).
Many items are quarantined such as outdoor furniture, crated materials, vehicles, campers, stoneware (tiles), firewood, nursery stock – insects lay eggs on anything with a smooth surface outdoors
TIP: Check car for egg masses before leaving a quarantined area!
Detection surveys are being conducted to track the infestation of SLF. These surveys are mostly visual, however, sweep netting and tree banding are also aid in detection. Visual reconnaissance surveys are being done with the help of volunteers and citizen scientists. Any SLF egg masses that are detected are confirmed, recorded, and scraped into plastic bags containing an alcohol solution to kill them.
Map: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2015
Results of 2015 detection surveys in Pennsylvania
Where spotted lanternfly has been detected in Pennsylvania, several control options are available. These methods are used in combination on a site-by-site basis.
Photo: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2015
Spotted lanternfly nymphs collected on tree band. Tree banding is both an effective detection method and control strategy for spotted lanternfly
Insecticides can be used by licenced applicators to control SLF populations. Insecticides will be applied to host tree stands from the ground level; aerial applications are not being considered. The primary insecticide being considered for SLF eradication is Dinotefuran, which will be applied according to label regulations and landowner consent.
The efficacy of other insecticides are being tested on small-scale experimental plots. These insecticides include bifenthrin, pymetrozine, and Beauveria bassiana strain GHA. If these prove to be effective, they may be added to the SLF eradication program at a later date.
For more information on spotted lanternfly eradication and control in the United States, see The USDA Spotted Lanternfly eradication program (May 2015)
Since its detection in 2014 in Pennsylvania, research on spotted lanternfly has been rapidly expanding. Currently, researchers from government and academia are investigating topics such as:
Tree band volatiles – Studies are ongoing to develop and test volatile (pheromone) combinations that will increase tree band efficacy by increasing attractiveness to SLF
Host trees – A wide range of potential host trees exist for SLF, with some estimates of over 65 species. A tree banding study on a wide range of potential host trees (30 – 40 species) will determine which species present in North America might be impacted by SLF
Impact on grape vine – Grape vine is thought to be at the greatest risk from SLF. Researchers are working to assess the extent of this risk in North America.
Frank, Rimerman & Co. LLP (2013). The economic impact of the wine and grape industry in Canada: Canada’s Wine Economy – Ripe, Robust, Remarkable. This study was commissioned by the
Canadian Vintners Association, Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, British Columbia Wine Institute, and the Winery Association of Nova Scotia.
Kim, J. G., Lee, E. H., Seo, Y. M., & Kim, N. Y. (2011). Cyclic behavior of Lycorma delicatula (Insecta: Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) on host plants. Journal of insect behavior, 24(6), 423-435.
Natural Resources Canada (2012). Statistical Data: Ontario domestic economic impact. Accessed July 2015 at https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/statsprofile/overview/on
Ontario Apple Growers (2015). Apple facts. Accessed July 2015 at http://onapples.com/all-about-apples/apple-facts.php
Ontario Tender Fruit Producer’s Marketing Board (2014). 35th annual report and financial statements for the year ending January 31st, 2014. Accessed July 2015 at http://www.ontariotenderfruit.ca/uploads/file/2013-Tender-Fruit-Final-with-Financials.pdf
Park, J. D., Kim, M. Y., Lee, S. G., Shin, S. C., Kim, J. H., & Park, I. K. (2009). Biological Characteristics of Lycorma delicatula and the Control Effects of Some Insecticides. Korean Journal of Applied Entomology.
Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences (2015). Host plants used by the spotted lanternfly. Accessed July 2015 at http://extension.psu.edu/pests/spotted-lanternfly/news/2015/host-plants-used-by-spotted-lanternfly
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (2015). Spotted lanternfly. Accessed June 2015 at http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_75292_10297_0_43/AgWebsite/ProgramDetail.aspx%3Fname%3DSpotted-Lanternfly%26navid%3D12%26parentnavid%3D0%26palid%3D150
U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (2015). Spotted lanternfly eradication program in Berks, Lehigh, and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania – Environmental Assessment May 2015. Accessed July 2015 at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/ea/downloads/2015/slf-berks-lehigh-montgomery-pa.pdf