The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)

May Be Headed for West Virginia

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest, primarily known to affect tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima). It has been detected on many host plants, including apples, plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, and pine. It also feeds on oak, walnut, poplar, and grapes. The insect will change hosts as it goes through its developmental stages. Nymphs feed on a wide range of plant species, while adults prefer to feed and lay eggs on tree of heaven (A. altissima).If allowed to spread in the United States, this pest could seriously harm the country’s grape, orchard, and logging industries.

Distribution and Spread

The spotted lanternfly is present in China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. The insect was detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014. This was the first detection of spotted lanternfly in the United States.

Spotted lanternflies are invasive and can spread rapidly when introduced to new areas. While the insect can walk, jump, or fly short distances, its long-distance spread is facilitated by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses.


Both nymphs and adults of spotted lanternfly cause damage when they feed, sucking sap from stems and leaves. This can reduce photosynthesis, weaken the plant, and eventually contribute to the plant’s death. In addition, feeding can cause the plant to ooze or weep, resulting in a fermented odor, and the insects themselves excrete large amounts of fluid (honeydew). These fluids promote mold growth and attract other insects.


Adult spotted lanternflies are approximately 1 inch long and one-half inch wide, and they have large and visually striking wings. Their forewings are light brown with black spots at the front and a speckled band at the rear. Their hind wings are scarlet with black spots at the front and white and black bars at the rear. Their abdomen is yellow with black bars. Nymphs in their early stages of development appear black with white spots and turn to a red phase before becoming adults. Egg masses are yellowish-brown in color, covered with a gray, waxy coating prior to hatching.

Life Cycle

The spotted lanternfly lays its eggs on smooth host plant surfaces and on non-host material, such as bricks, stones, and dead plants. Eggs hatch in the spring and early summer, and nymphs begin feeding on a wide range of host plants by sucking sap from young stems and leaves. Adults appear in late July and tend to focus their feeding on tree of heaven (A. altissima) and grapevine (Vitis vinifera). As the adults feed, they excrete sticky, sugar-rich fluid similar to honeydew. The fluid can build up on plants and on the ground underneath infested plants, causing sooty mold to form.

Report Your Findings

If you find an insect that you suspect is the spotted lanternfly, please contact your local Extension office or State Plant Regulatory Official to have the specimen identified properly.To locate an Extension specialist near you, go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Web site at www.nifa.usda. gov/Extension. A directory of State Plant Regulatory Officials is available on the National Plant Board Web site at www.

For more information or to report infestations, please contact: West Virginia Department of Agriculture Plant Industries Division (304)558-2212 or send information to

For more information or to report infestations, please contact: West Virginia Department of Agriculture Plant Industries Division (304)558-2212 or send information to