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Spotted lanternfly

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Common Name: Spotted lanternfly

Scientific Name: Lycorma delicatula

Hosts: While it commonly feeds and lays eggs on the invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), it has been found on a range of host plants including many of high economic importance (including grapes, hops, stone fruits, apples),  as well as oak, walnut, tulip tree, willow, and maple trees. The insect will be on different hosts at different times in its life cycle.


Spotted lanternfly is a planthopper. The feeding can weaken host plants. In addition, spotted lanternfly produces the sticky, sugary excretion known as honeydew. It is capable of making honeydew in larger quantities than other sap-feeding insects, such as scale and aphids. If honeydew coats plant leaves, sooty mold may grow on it and block sunlight to limit photosynthesis, further weakening the plant. Other insects, like ants and wasps, may also come to feed on the sticky honeydew. Because spotted lanternfly produces extremely large amounts of honeydew, it is unpleasant to be under an infested tree.

Life Cycle

Spotted lanternfly overwinters as eggs on host plants as well as on hard structures. If these structures are mobile (cars, railroad cars, wood pallets), they allow easy spread of the egg masses. The egg masses are a nondescript gray and can easily be overlooked. Egg hatch occurs in spring and early summer. Nymphs feed on a range of host plants and go through four nymphal stages, with the first three being black with white spots and the last stage red with white spots and black stripes. The nymphs mature into adults beginning in mid-summer.

Adults begin to show up around late July. The adult is about 1 inch long. When at rest, the wings close over the body. The closed wings are gray with black spots and some distinct veining at the ends. When the wings are open and the inner wings can be seen, there are obvious splashes of red. The adults begin to lay egg masses in September and may continue to do so until a freeze occurs.

For more information see the links below. To see pictures of all life stages of this pest visit BugGuide.Net.

University of Illinois Extension

Illinois Department of Agriculture

Cornell University

Penn State Extension


Be on the lookout for suspicious egg masses on smooth outdoor surfaces. They tend to include 30 to 50 small eggs in a gray, waxy, mudlike coating. Hatched eggs appear as brownish seedlike deposits arranged in four to seven columns about 1 inch long.

Watch plants carefully during the growing season for signs of stress or wilt and for excessive honeydew or residue buildup on the bark. To report a sighting of this pest, contact your state Department of Agriculture. In Illinois, send an email, with photos, to