LANSING, Mich. – Michigan officials want residents to be on the lookout for the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that threatens agriculture and natural resources.
The spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 70 different plants including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees. It was first detected in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania and has been spreading since. Infestations have been confirmed in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
It has not been detected in Michigan, but the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development have confirmed five cases of dead spotted lanternfly in separate locations across the state.
In those incidents, the dead insects were found in packaging materials or objects shipped from states with known infestations.
“Our agricultural and natural resources are part of Michigan’s identity, and the spotted lanternfly has the potential to forever change that landscape,” said Robert Miller, MDARD’s invasive species prevention and response specialist within the Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “With its ability to wreak havoc on grapes, apples, hops, stone fruits and more, this could be devastating to Michigan’s farmers and the state’s food and agriculture industry.”
Why public awareness is vital
While spotted lanternflies cannot fly long distances, it can lay eggs on nearly any surface.
They have been known to lay eggs on cars, trailers, firewood, outdoor furniture and more.
Before you leave an infected area, you should check your vehicles, firewood and other outdoor equipment for hitchikers.
People and businesses receiving shipments from states known to have spotted lanternfly should be on the lookout for egg masses on goods and packing materials.
“With the current rate of spread, it is possible spotted lanternfly could reach Michigan at any time,” Miller added. “Public awareness and reporting are essential to early detection, which provides the opportunity to contain an infestation before it becomes a widespread problem.”
How does the spotted lanternfly cause damage?
It sucks sap from host plants while secreting large amounts of sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew.
The honeydew and resulting black sooty mold can kill plants and foul surfaces. The honeydew attacks pests like yellow jackets, flies and ants.
Lifecycle of a spotted lanternfly
From late summer to the first hard frost, spotted lanternflies are in their adult stage and easiest to identify.
Adults are roughly one inch long. 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.
They lay egg masses in the fall. The masses resemble old chewing gum, with a gray, waxy, putty-like coating. Egg masses can survive winter temperatures and hatch in the spring.
Hatched eggs appear as brownish, seed-like deposits. Spotted lanternfly juveniles are wingless and are black with white spots, developing red patches in their final juvenile stage.
What to do if you find a spotted lanternfly
If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, juvenile or adult take several photos and make note of the date, time and location of the sighting.
Then report it to MDARD via email at MDA-Info@Michigan.gov or by calling 800-292-3939. If you can, collect a specimen in a container for it to be verified.