spotted lanternfly side view

Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Photo: Peter L. Coffey, University of Maryland Extension (2017-2021)

Updated: November 1, 2022

Key points

  • 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 Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, and Washington 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 grapes, apples, stone fruits, and other plant species. 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 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.

spotted lanternfly quarantine map of maryland
Spotted Lanternfly quarantine locations (in yellow). Source: Kenton Sumpter, Maryland Department of Agriculture, January 2022

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.

honeydew produced by spotted lanternfly

Red oak leaves with honeydew from spotted lanternfly feeding. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

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 foliage

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) Photo: Richard Gardner,

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 first instar nymphs

Spotted lanternfly nymphs (first instar). Photo: Richard Gardner,

Later-stage nymphs (fourth instar) are red with white spots. These are typically found from July-September.

spotted lanternfly immature

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.

close-up showing spotted lanternfly adult

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.

wood board with spotted lanternfly egg mass

Spotted lanternfly egg masses on wood. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University,

rows of brown spotted lanternfly eggs

Spotted lanternfly eggs. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

Annual timeline

spotted lanternfly life cycle

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

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 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. 

Spotted lanternfly egg masses - scrape smash and report them to Maryland Dept of Agriculture
If you find spotted lanternfly egg masses, scrape them off, smash them, and report them to the Maryland Department of Agriculture,

Mechanical control

  • Kill spotted lanternfly adults and nymphs by crushing them with gloved hands, stomping on them by foot, 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.

  • Build a circle trap using instructions from Penn State Extension. Watch a video demonstration of how to install the trap.

  • Banding (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.

Biological control

  • Natural enemies include spiderspraying mantidsassassin bugs, and predatory stink bugs, but these are not present in high enough numbers to control new spotted lanternfly populations at this time. Nonetheless, adding a variety of flowering plants and plant types will help support generalist natural enemies in your landscape. Over time, they may shift to feed more on this new pest (as occurred with the invasive brown marmorated stink bug). It remains to be seen whether generalist natural enemies will suppress spotted lanternfly populations.

  • Research is underway on biopesticide options such as entomopathogenic (insect-killing) fungi. None are currently available at this time.

Chemical control

  • Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil according to product label instructions. These provide good control 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 may need to be re-applied at intervals recommended on the product label.

  • EPA-registered insecticides that are most effective for systemic control of spotted lanternfly are toxic to bees, fish, and in some cases, birds, and have specific requirements for timing, method of application, and equipment. Certain classes of systemic insecticides for spotted lanternfly may only be applied by a Maryland-certified pesticide applicator, as per the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act, and these should only be considered as a last resort.

  • 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.

Additional resources

Video: Spotted Lanternfly Identification and Life Cycle, Penn State University

Co-authors: Christa Carignan, Horticulturist and Coordinator; Peter Coffey, Agricultural Science Agent Associate (2017-2021); Emily Zobel, Senior Agent Associate, University of Maryland Extension, October 2020