Stop This Invader – Spotted Lanternfly

What is the Spotted Lanternfly?

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has issued information related to the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), or SLF, an exotic insect pest native to China, India, and Vietnam.  The Spotted Lanternfly was first found in Berks County in 2014 and has since spread to several surrounding counties, including Lancaster County.  See the complete map of affected counties as of November 4, 2017 by clicking here.  An updated map of Spotted Lanternfly distribution may be found by clicking here.  Due to this pest’s spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth issued a Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine and Order in 2018.

The Spotted Lanternfly can feed on a variety of over 70 plants such as grapes, cherries, maples, stone fruits, and the Tree of Heaven.  For a chart of the signs of the Spotted Lanternfly, click here.

Other insects such as the Giant Leopard Moth and the Vigin Tiger Moth may be confused with the Spotted Lanternfly due to their appearance.  When in doubt, report a suspicious moth to

Visit the Penn State Extension website with extensive information about the Spotted Lanternfly by clicking here.

Visit the PA Department of Agriculture’s Spotted Lanternfly page by clicking here.

What problems do they pose?

The Spotted Lanternfly can infest nurseries and tree farms and decimate fruit-bearing trees and vines, ruining their crops.  They are known to have killed over 70 species of plants, including hardwood, dogwood, pine, and spruce trees.

Fortunately, there is only one generation of SLF per year.

What can businesses do to control the Spotted Lanternfly?

To stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine for counties where the presence of this pest has been confirmed:  Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill Counties.  Businesses operating in the quarantine zone must have permits to move equipment and goods within and out of the zone.  Unsure if your business or organization is required to carry permits?  Check the Penn State Extension’s online article for more information and examples of who is required to obtain a permit.

Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have developed a self-paced, online course to train designated employees how to comply with the quarantine.  This course will teach the designated employees what they need to know about the spotted lanternfly through short, informative videos.  They will learn the spotted lanternfly lifecycle and how to identify each life stage, what it likes to eat, and where it likes to lay its eggs.  They will also learn how to find and destroy spotted lanternflies and their egg masses, best practices for working in the quarantine zone, and the best ways to eliminate spotted lanternfly from their property.

There are three sections in the course.  Each section has a quiz at the end.  Students will need to achieve a score greater than 70% on the quizzes in order to pass this course.

Once a designated employee passes this course, his or her company will receive spotted lanternfly permits for company vehicles. The designated employee must train fellow employees to work in the quarantine zone without inadvertently spreading these insects and endangering agriculture and commerce. Downloadable training materials, including PowerPoint presentations and fact sheets, are available in the course.  Click here to find out more about how to stay in compliance with the SLF Quarantine.

If you have questions about the permitting process, email the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

What can residents do to control the Spotted Lanternfly?

One of the most important things you can do is report sightings to the PA Department of Agriculture (PA Ag).  Report online, e-mail a picture of any life stage (including egg masses) to, or call the Spotted Lanternfly hotline at 1-888-4BAD-FLY (1-888-422-3359) with information regarding your sighting.

Steps of Spotted Lanternfly Management

  1. Stop the spread:  check your car and any outdoor equiment (grills, mowers, firewood, etc.) when going in and out of the quarantine zone.
  2. Scrape eggs
  3. Band trees to catch nymphs
  4. Remove the favored host tree, tree-of-heaven
  5. Apply insecticides when appropriate.  Home remedies are not recommended.

Here are specific things to do in the various seasons:

Spring:  Egg casings can be found until the nymphs emerge in April or May.  Adult females will have laid egg masses on host trees and nearby smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and structures.  Each adult femal can lay 10 different egg casings in a season.  Newly laid egg masses have a grey mud-like covering which can take on a dry cracked appearance over time.  Old egg masses appear as rows of 30-50 brownish seed-like deposits in 4-7 columns on the trunk, roughly an inch long.  To remove:  Scrape egg masses off, bag them with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer, double-bag, and dispose of them in the trash.  Please report all destroyed egg masses on the PA Department of Agriculture website.

Late spring is the time to band trees to catch nymphs.  The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is supplying sticky brown bands to volunteers in quarantined areas.  If you are interested in completing the training required to participate in the PDA volunteer program, send your contact information to: (please include your name, phone numbers, email address, mailing address and the municipality of the property where you will place the bands) or call 610-391-9840 to sign up.  Potential volunteers will be contacted with information about the training and where they can pick up banding supplies.

Summer:  Adults mature and start flying in July.  If you have a tree-of-heaven on your property, remove it, as this tree is the favored host tree to the SLF.

If your property has an abundance of SLFs, you may determine that professional help is needed by a pest management company.  Make sure the one you choose meets all the legal and educational requirements. This would include verifying a valid and current:

  • Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator Certification or Registered Technician card (see list for certification categories)
  • Business license (requires the company to have general liability insurance coverage specific to pesticide applications)

The above are required to commercially apply pesticides in Pennsylvania.  Ask about their membership in professional trade associations, which generally offer ongoing education in safety, training, research, and regulations.  Expect pest management professionals to provide information on a wide assortment of pesticide-related topics, such as personal safety and environmental impact.  They should discuss chemical tactics along with alternative weed, insect, plant disease, and rodent control strategies.  The company must provide pesticide labels on request. Many answers to your questions will be found on the label instructions.  The pesticide must be labeled for use on the site (such as lawns, ornamentals, dwellings, vegetables, etc.) and preferably specify the target pest.  Visit Penn State Extension’s Pests and Diseases web page for label information.

Autumn:  Adults are mating and laying eggs, so more of them will be visible.  Look for egg casings beginning in November, and destroy as described above.  Please report all destroyed egg masses on the PA Department of Agriculture website.

Winter:  If the weather is warm enough, adult Spotted Lanternflies can lay eggs into December.  Continue to look for egg casings and destroy as described above.  Please report all destroyed egg masses on the PA Department of Agriculture website.