UPDATE: Mercer, Warren, and Hunterdon County, NJ are Now Under Lanternfly Quarantine*

Trouble on The Horizon

These flies have not yet breached New Jersey, but are already in the Lehigh Valley. They primarily attack fruit and hardwood trees, as well as grape vines.

The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a one-inch long invasive insect native to East Asia that was first found in Pennsylvania within the last 4 years. The spotted lanternfly adult is approximately 1 inch long and a halfinch wide at rest. The forewing is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in gray. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. While it has two pairs of wings, the lanternfly is a strong jumper and hops more than it flies. October is the time of year when newly laid egg masses of the non-native invasive spotted lanternfly become live and viable.

Full Grown by Late Summer

stages of life for a spotted lanternflyHatching in mid-May and growing through the four immature stages to adulthood, they feed on, and pose a major threat to, fruit trees, hardwoods and grapes.The lanternflies will begin to be easier to spot throughout the summer months as they make their way to the adult stage.

The spotted lanternfly have been documented to feed on over 70 species of trees and plants, and it is the feeding that does the harm. Both the nymphs and adults suck sap from stems and leaves, which weakens the plant and can eventually contribute to the tree’s death.

tree of heaven - favorite host of lanternflyAlthough they feed on any number of trees, for some reason they particularly like the tree commonly referred to as the “Tree of Heaven”. In late summer and fall, if you have this tree on your property you would be wise to check out the tree periodically for the spotted lanternfly. This is an invasive tree which has substances that are toxic to and inhibit the growth of neighboring plants, and while we may be grateful to see the tree of heaven go, it’s not worth the risk to our fruit trees, ornamentals and timbers that are also affected by these pests.

Have you Spotted a Spotted Lanternfly?

lanternfly egg massIf you see what you believe to be a spotted lanternfly, take a picture of any life stage, (including the egg masses pictured left) and send it to SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov. Collect a specimen, if possible: Specimens of any life stage can be turned in to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s lab for verification. Report a site: If you can’t take a specimen or photograph, call the New Jersey Spotted Lanternfly Hotline at 1-833-223-2840 (1-833-BADBUG0) and leave a message detailing your sighting. If you find any spotted lanternflies, crush individual ones. Scrape trees where you find egg masses.

Protecting Our Trees

The spotted lanternfly has no natural predators as birds mostly ignore them. There has been some success with glue banding around affected trees, but right now, your best mode of prevention is to be careful of your visits to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Lanternfly Quarantine

young and adult spotted lanternfliesRight now there is a quarantine in more than 70 PA towns at the time of this post on the transport of brush, debris, bark, yard waste, logs, stumps, or any tree parts for firewood of any species, as well as grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock and landscaping, remodeling or construction waste.

If you are traveling in these areas, PLEASE, check your vehicle to make sure you don’t carry them back with you. 

*UPDATE* On July 31, the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture Announced that the Quarantine has spread to Warren, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties.