Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive sap-feeding insect native to eastern Asia. It was first detected in the United States in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In Maryland, it was first found in Cecil County in October 2018.
Spotted lanternfly is spreading in Maryland and a quarantine is in place in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Washington, and Wicomico Counties, as well as Baltimore City. This means a permit is required for any businesses moving within or through these counties, along with any movement in the quarantine areas in DE, NJ, PA, and VA.
This pest does not bite or sting. It feeds on a wide range of plants including grapes, hops, apples, stone fruits, maples, walnuts, and other plant species. Its feeding has not resulted in killing plants (except for grapes). It is primarily a threat to Maryland's agricultural crops.
All Maryland residents (except for those in Cecil or Harford Counties) are urged to report sightings of Spotted Lanternfly to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) as soon as possible. Submit your report online. Questions or concerns about this pest also can be submitted by email to DontBug.MD@maryland.gov or call (410) 841-5920. Control information can be found at the bottom of this page.
Refer to (PDF) Maryland Department of Agriculture Residential Checklist if you live in an area with Spotted Lanternfly.
The behavior of spotted lanternfly
Spotted lanternfly is a type of planthopper insect that feeds in large groups on a wide range of plants including grapes, peaches, apples, walnuts, oaks, and pines. They do not bite or sting people or pets.
Both adults and nymphs (immatures) feed by sucking sap from plant stems, trunks, and leaves. During feeding, they produce a sugary waste substance called honeydew. The honeydew sticks to leaves and fruits where it attracts other pests and supports the growth of sooty mold, which contaminates and reduces the value of fruits, reduces plant photosynthesis, and weakens overall plant health.
Red oak leaves with honeydew from spotted lanternfly feeding. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org
A preferred host plant for the spotted lanternfly is tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), an invasive weedy tree that grows in disturbed areas on field edges and roadsides. Early research suggests that spotted lanternfly prefers to feed and reproduce on tree-of-heaven (but research has shown it also can complete its lifecycle on other species such as maple and willow). From tree-of-heaven in particular, the insects may obtain toxic chemicals from the tree which make them poisonous to potential predators. Refer to our information about tree-of-heaven and how to remove it.
Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) Photo: Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org
Current distribution & map of spotted lanternfly locations
Spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. A shipment of stone imported from Asia was contaminated with spotted lanternfly egg masses. Despite quarantine efforts, spotted lanternfly became established and continued to spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. It is now moving into nearby states including Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Cornell University maintains the most current map of spotted lanternfly locations and quarantine areas in the US Northeast.
Based on climate data, most of the eastern half of the United States as well as California, Washington, and Oregon have suitable conditions for spotted lanternflies to expand their range. Refer to Lanternflies on the Move by University of Maryland by Professor Emeritus Dr. Michael Raupp.
The life stages of spotted lanternfly
Spotted lanternfly nymphs (immature form) resemble large black aphids with white spots. There are three instars (phases) of these early-stage nymphs and they are usually found from April-July.
Spotted lanternfly nymphs (first instar). Photo: Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org
Later-stage nymphs (fourth instar) are red with white spots. These are typically found from July-September.
Spotted lanternfly (fourth instar nymph). Photo: Peter L. Coffey, University of Maryland Extension
Spotted lanternfly adults may be present from July through early November. The outer wings are grey with black spots and have a brick-like pattern at the wing tips. The hidden underwings have brightly contrasting large patches of red, black, and white. The legs and head are black. The abdomen has broad black bands, with yellow on the sides.
Spotted lanternfly adult. Photo: Peter L. Coffey, University of Maryland Extension
Spotted lanternfly eggs are laid in masses containing 30-50 individual eggs that will overwinter and hatch in the spring. Females will lay eggs on any flat vertical surface, including trees, stones, vehicles, grills, and outdoor furniture.
Fresh egg masses can be found from October-December. They are about one inch long and have a grey mud-like covering which cracks over time as it dries out. The covering eventually flakes off revealing 30-50 brown eggs which resemble seeds set in 4-7 rows.
Spotted lanternfly egg masses on wood. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org
Spotted lanternfly eggs. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org
The young nymphs hatch out of eggs in April and develop through midsummer. They begin to grow into adults (in July). Adult females will lay eggs throughout the fall and will die by the start of winter. Egg will last through winter and hatch the following spring.
Stop the spread of spotted lanternfly
Prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly by inspecting your vehicle and any outdoor equipment (grills, mowers, camping supplies, firewood, etc.) when traveling in and out of the quarantine zones in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey. Refer to this (PDF) checklist to inspect for spotted lanternfly.
Remove one of its preferred host plants, tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), from your property. Tree-of-heaven looks very similar to native sumac and black walnut, so correct identification of the plant is important. Watch this short video on tree-of-heaven and native look-alikes. Contact us if you need help with plant identification or information about control methods.
Manage spotted lanternfly around your home
What to do if you find spotted lanternflies in Maryland
While sightings of spotted lanternfly in Harford or Cecil counties no longer need to be reported, residents of all other Maryland counties are urged to report observations of SLF to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) as soon as possible. Submit your report to the MDA online. Questions or concerns about this pest also may be sent by email to DontBug.MD@maryland.gov or call (410) 841-5920. Try to collect a sample insect in a small bottle containing alcohol, or take a good clear photo of the insect and email the photo to MDA.
Don't panic -- Spotted lanternflies are a nuisance pest in home landscapes. They do not bite or sting people or pets, and they are not wood-boring pests of homes or other structures. They do not kill trees but will cause stress on them, so best management practices in the way of water management, soil health, and correct mulching will go far to help keep your plants healthy.
In residential yards and gardens, the recommended approach is to physically kill any spotted lanternflies that are reachable safely. Insecticides kill non-target (beneficial and benign) insects that are necessary in the environment and will not effectively reach and kill all of the spotted lanternflies that are present and on the move. SLF is not harming landscape or garden plants enough to justify the risks of using insecticidal sprays.
Use any or a combination of these mechanical removal methods:
Mechanical (non-chemical) control
Kill spotted lanternfly adults and nymphs by crushing them with gloved hands, stomping on them by foot, smashing them with fly swatters or rackets, or drowning them in a container of soapy water or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).
Scrape egg masses off of plants and hard surfaces such as lawn furniture, decks, and concrete surfaces using a plastic card or tool such as a putty knife. The eggs must then be crushed in order to kill them. Eggs can be crushed with gloved hands or dropped into a container of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Watch a video about how to scrape and destroy spotted lanternfly eggs.
Adhesive (sticky) traps can be placed on trees but should be used in combination with a screen cover to prevent by-catch of birds, squirrels, beneficial insects, and other animals.
Use a shop vacuum to suck up SLF; kill and discard them.
Natural enemies include spiders, praying mantids, assassin bugs, predatory stink bugs, and birds. Support a healthy environment for natural predators by growing a variety of flowering plants and plant types in your landscape. Plant diversity provides food and habitat for natural enemies.
Research is underway on biological control options such as entomopathogenic (insect-killing) fungi. Beauveria bassiana is a fungus that will cause a disease in SLF. It is commercially available but it is not practical to use in home gardens effectively. Furthermore, it is not specific to SLF and can have negative effects on non-target insects.
Research on the use of parasitic wasps for biological control is underway. It could take at least 10 years before these options, if any, become available.
- Spotted lanternflies are constantly on the move. Spot-spraying and whole-yard insecticide treatments will only put a small, temporary dent in the population while putting a variety of other organisms at risk.
- Insecticidal soap and neem oil are effective only if they are applied directly to spotted lanternflies and the surfaces on which they are feeding and walking. Neem oil and insecticidal soap have a short period of residual activity and would need to be re-applied at intervals recommended on the product label.
- We do not recommend spraying pyrethroid insecticides because they are non-selective and kill non-target insects.
- Do not apply insecticides on lawns to control spotted lanternflies. They do not live in lawns.
- You are required by law to apply pesticides according to the directions on the label. This increases your safety, the safety of the environment, and the effectiveness of the pesticide. Home remedies may be harmful to people, pets, and/or plants and should not be used as pesticides.
Spotted Lanternfly Lore: Penn State Experts Clear Up Falsehoods About Pest | Penn State University
Spotted Lanternfly Management Guide | Penn State University
Spotted Lanternfly Management Resources | Penn State University
Help Find the Spotted Lanternfly | Dr. Michael Raupp, University of Maryland
Lanternflies on the Move | Dr. Michael Raupp, University of Maryland
Remove Tree-of-Heaven | Penn State University