The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species from southeast Asia. This insect is a phloem feeder meaning it feeds on the fluid found in plant cells, because of this it is a threat to several agriculture crops grown in New York State including grapes. As of January, 2019 there are no known cases of an alive spotted lanternfly, adult or juvenile, found in New York. Several dead adults have been found but these are believed to be the result of hitchhiking adults landing in cars or on merchandise being moved from the quarantine zone in southern Pennsylvania to New York.
These insects are about an inch to an inch and a half long as adults and have four instar stages during which they grow from about the size of a tick to the size of a common stinkbug. Many people have mistook the 4th instar to be a stinkbug due to its body shape and size, however it is differentiated by the bright red coloring on the abdomen.
Visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s’ page on the Spotted Lanternfly here.
Adults will lay egg masses containing 30 to 60 eggs on any smooth surface from tree trunks to rusty railroad cars. These are generally attached to a surface in the Fall and covered with a protective coating that wears away. This coating aids them in handling the cold northeastern winters and acts as camouflage as it gradually turns from light gray to tan appearing similar to mud.
Spotted lanternfly (SLF) adults seem to gravitate towards Tree of Heaven for egg laying. This tree is also an invasive from Asia and would be part of the spotted lanternflies natural habitat. Since SLF has started moving into different areas, it has been observed laying eggs and feeding on over 70 different native species of plants and agriculture crops.
$358.4 million of combined annual yield from New York grape and apple growers could be affected by the spotted lanternfly. Not only will they weaken the plants themselves but as they feed they secrete honeydew which encourages the growth of diseases like sooty mold and mildew.
If you think you may have found a spotted lanternfly, one of the instars, or an egg mass please contact the DEC with the location and pictures by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org