Jan 23, 2019Invasive spotted lanternfly making its way to Ohio
Ohio has its radar in place to detect the first arrival of an invasive pest that can cause extensive damage to many crops, including vineyards and tree fruit.
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest from Asia that primarily feeds on tree-of-heaven but can also feed on a wide variety of plants such as grapevine, hops, maple, walnut, fruit trees and others. It sucks the juice from fruits and sap from trees, leaving a sticky residue that attracts fungus and mold.
The sticky mess and the swarms of insects it attracts can significantly hinder outdoor activities. In Pennsylvania, where its populations are the densest, people cannot be outside without getting honeydew on their hair, clothes and other belongings.
“Our work right now focuses on informing growers and the public as much as we can,” Eric Barrett, Extension educator and assistant professor at The Ohio State University Mahoning County Extension, said in a report by Lisbon, Ohio’s Morning Journal. “We have been presenting at our farmer meetings the past two years on the potential threat.”
According to Barrett, while not a good flyer, the spotted lanternfly is a good hitch-hiker, “mainly by laying eggs on cars or firewood that gets moved to other areas of the state/country.”
The Department of Environmental Conservation in New York website describes nymphs as black with white spots and turn red before transitioning into adults. They can be seen as early as April.
Adults begin to appear in July and are approximately 1 inch long and a half inch wide at rest, with eye-catching wings. Their forewings are grayish with black spots. The lower portions of their hindwings are red with black spots and the upper portions are dark with a white stripe.
In the fall, adults lay 1-inch-long egg masses on nearly anything from tree trunks and rocks to vehicles and firewood. They are smooth and brownish-gray with a shiny, waxy coating when first laid.
With no native predator, the spotted lanternfly has flourished. They are, however, especially attracted to another non-native species, the tree-of-heaven, also known as the ailanthus, which is native to China and Taiwan. An ailanthus tree can be used as a type of living “trap” when they are treated with a systemic pesticide that the lanternfly will suck, killing them.