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Spotted lanternfly could be next invasive species in Michigan: What to know

Insect could cause damage to crops, agriculture

Adult spotted lanterfly's bright wing coloration is hidden when wings are closed. Photo courtesy of Robert Gardner, Bugwood.org.
Adult spotted lanterfly's bright wing coloration is hidden when wings are closed. Photo courtesy of Robert Gardner, Bugwood.org. (MDARD)

DETROIT – Michigan could soon have a new addition to its invasive species list: spotted lanternfly.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is asking the public to be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect with the potential to seriously affect Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources. This insect could damage or kill more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees.

To date, spotted lanternfly has not been detected in Michigan, but it has been detected spreading across the nation, including in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia.

Related: Michigan adds invasive marbled crayfish to prohibited species list

Adult spotted lanternflies are identifiable by their bright body and wing colors. Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org.
Adult spotted lanternflies are identifiable by their bright body and wing colors. Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org. (MDARD)

Spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold can kill plants and foul surfaces. The honeydew often attracts other pests, particularly hornets, wasps and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and complicating crop harvests.

“Spotted lanternfly could negatively impact our grape industry,” said Robert Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist for MDARD. “But it also has the potential to damage stone fruits, apples and other crops in Michigan’s fruit belt as well as important timber species statewide.”

How to spot eggs

Spotted lanternfly egg masses resemble old chewing gum, with a gray, waxy, putty-like coating. Hatched eggs appear as brownish, seed-like deposits.

Spotted lanternflies may lay egg masses on vehicles, outdoor furniture or other items that can be transported to new areas, leading to new infestations. Photo courtesy of Emilie Swackhammer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org.
Spotted lanternflies may lay egg masses on vehicles, outdoor furniture or other items that can be transported to new areas, leading to new infestations. Photo courtesy of Emilie Swackhammer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org. (MDARD)

Spotted lanternfly nymphs are wingless, beetle-like and black with white spots, developing red patches as they mature. Adults are roughly 1 inch long.

Spotted lanternflies go through several phases, first resembling spotted beetles before morphing into their adult form. Photo courtesy of Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences.
Spotted lanternflies go through several phases, first resembling spotted beetles before morphing into their adult form. Photo courtesy of Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences. (MDARD)

Their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots. Open wings reveal a yellow and black abdomen and bright red hind wings with black spots transitioning to black and white bands at the edge.

How to report to MDARD

If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, take one or more photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting, and report to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MDA-Info@Michigan.gov or phone the MDARD Customer Service Center, 800-292-3939. If possible, collect a specimen in a container for verification.

Related: 11 invasive species to watch out for in Michigan


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