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Spotted Lanternfly

Every critter has their own story.

The secret of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a proven, cost-effective strategy to combat pest problems without unnecessary pesticide use, is to understand the life-cycle of the pest that is pestering.

Spotted Lanternfly Red and Black

What is a spotted lanternfly?

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect species in the United States. They are native to China as well as parts of Japan, India, Vietnam, and Taiwan. It is believed that spotted lanternflies were brought to the U.S. through trade. 

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They were first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014. From there, their populations spread to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. Since their arrival, their populations have grown exponentially.

Spotted Lanternfly

What do spotted lanternflies look like?

Spotted lanternflies change in appearance a great deal as they grow. They begin their life in an egg mass.


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Egg masses are roughly 1 inch in size. Newly laid masses have a light gray, mud-like coating. As the masses age, the coatings become tan and have a dried and cracked appearance. Hatched masses lose the mud-like coating, exposing the individual, seed-like eggs beneath. Masses may be found attached to trees, rocks, firewood, pallets, outdoor furniture, boats, and virtually anything else that is left outdoors. One adult female can lay up to 2 egg masses. Nymphs go through four stages. During the first three, they are black with white spots, and they grow from a few millimeters to ¼ inch in size. During the fourth stage, they are bright red with white spots and black stripes, and they grow to be around ½ inch in size. Nymphs have no wings but they are strong jumpers. Adults are approximately 1 inch in length and have two pairs of wings. Their forewings are gray with black dots, and they have black markings on the tips. Their hindwings are black with a white stripe on the front half, and red with black dots on the rear half. Their abdomens are yellow with black bands.

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When are spotted lanternflies active?

Egg masses are present from September until June. Nymphs begin emerging in May and mature through the first three nymphal stages between May and July. They remain in the fourth nymphal stage from July to September. Adults emerge in July and stick around until December. Adults begin laying eggs in September and continue to do so until they die off in December.

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Are spotted lanternflies harmful to humans?

Spotted lanternflies do not bite or sting, so their presence poses no direct threat to humans. However, their feeding habits severely affect the health of more than 70 plant species, and their presence greatly affects agriculture as a whole. They suck the sap out of their preferred crops which puts stress on the plants and causes their health and yield to decline. To make matters worse, spotted lanternflies excrete a sugary substance called honeydew which can lead to sooty mold growth on plants. The sweet liquid can also attract other insects like wasps and ants.

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What plants do spotted lanternflies damage? Spotted lanternflies much prefer the Tree of Heaven, or Ailanthus altissima, but they have also taken a liking to more than 70 other plants. According to the USDA, the plants that are at risk are almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, hops, maple trees, nectarines, oak trees, peaches, pine trees, plums, poplar trees, sycamore trees, walnut trees, and willow trees.

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Are spotted lanternflies dangerous to pets?

Spotted lanternflies pose very little danger to pets since they do not bite or sting. They are not poisonous if ingested, though they may cause pets to experience upset stomach, loss of appetite, drooling, and possibly vomiting.

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How to control spotted lanternflies

To help stop their spread, New Jersey has established a quarantine zone which restricts the transport of certain items. The 13 counties included in the zone are Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Salem, Somerset, Union, and Warren. Residents of these counties must complete this “compliance checklist” before moving the listed items out of the quarantine zone. If you find any spotted lanternflies during your checklist inspection, take a look at our Residential Pest Control plans.

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Businesses must also follow additional protocols, including obtaining permits from NJDA. If you are finding any spotted lanternflies around your business, check out our Commercial Pest Control plans.  Spotted lanternflies are one pest that should be left to the professionals. Call Excel today and let us take care of the problem.

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