Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula
Douglas G. Pfeiffer, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech
Current range in Virginia
VDACS page with current quarantine map
Quarantine protocol (note that the "regulated area" has been expanded)
Certification training program (VCE)
Quarantine Inspection Form
Current national SLF distribution (NYS IPM)
Local VCE Offices for Reporting
The insect: Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an important invasive insect currently moving through Virginia. SLF originated in China where its presence has been documented in detail dating as far back as the 12th century. In modern times, it was first
recorded from a sample collected in Nankin, China. SLF is native
to China, India, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. SLF is likely to have arrived
from China up to two years earlier than first detected on shipping
materials, pointing to its ability to overwinter successfully. It
is highly invasive and can spread rapidly when introduced to new
areas. This is attributed to its wide host range (more than 70
host plant species), a lack of natural native enemies, and its
ability to hitchhike in human conveyances.
There is one generation per year. The eggs overwinter, with nymphs
appearing in late April or early May (5% egg hatch at about 76 DD above a threshold of 10.4 C, based on PA research). Adults develop over the summer, and adults eclose in mid-July, and first overwintering eggs appear in mid-September. Annual phenological events for Virginia are as follows:
Year 1st egg hatch Adult eclosion 1st eggs
2018........May 9.......Jul 20..........Sep 17
2019........Apr 27......Jul 9............Sep 12
2020........Apr 22......Jul 13..........Sep 15
2021........Apr 28......Jul 9............Sep 16
2022........Apr 21......Jul 11..........Sep 18
2023........Apr 10 .....Jul 12..........
The first three nymphal instars are black with white spots. The fourth and final instar becomes bright red, with white and black
markings. The adults have grey front wings with black spots, with an area containing small black rectangles near the wing tip. Bright red markings on the
hind wings are exposed during flight. Nymphs and adults form
feeding aggregations, feeding on phloem sap, and excreting large
amounts of honeydew, which coats plants and other surfaces,
supporting the growth of black sooty mold. The nymphal host
range is extensive, with more than 70 plant species, in multiple
families. In the fall, adults return to tree of heaven,
where they sequester indole alkaloids that confer protection
against predators. Mating pairs may
occasionally be found on the tree.
Traps for SLF: Traps for SLF orginially consisted of bands of sticky paper that would collect nymphs as they climbed back into trees after falling, a common occurrence. These traps were very nonselective and captured non-target species like birds and lizards. A more selective trap, the Circle trap, also depends on the behavior of nymphs climbing up the tree trunk, but is more more selective. These traps are available commercially (see here for individual trap), but there are also instructions online, by PSU, on construction of Circle traps.
Spread to US and Virginia: In September 2014, the
first detection of SLF in the US was confirmed in eastern
Pennsylvania. By 2022, the range expanded to more than 40 Pennsylvania
counties, 10 counties in Maryland, six New York counties, and two counties in Delaware. SLF is now established in all counties of New Jersey except Cape May. In 2022, SLF was found in Forsythe and Gilford Counties in North Carolina.
Egg masses and dead adults were found in Winchester in January 2018,
reflecting population development in 2017. During the 2018
season, the infestation zone in Virginia expanded from
approximately 1 square mile block in Winchester, Frederick County,
to about 18 square miles, and 40 square miles in fall of
2019. By the end of the 2020 season, the zone
encompassed 140 square miles. As of 2022, in addition to the original counties of Frederick, Clarke and Warren, SLF is established in Albemarle, Augusta, Carroll, Nelson, Page, Prince William, Rockingham, Rockbridge, Shenandoah and Wythe Counties, plus the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, Staunton and Waynesboro. Click here for a map of the current Virginia distribution. This includes the entire Shenandoah Valley, with spread further into the Virginia Piedmont.
Pest status: This insect poses a threat to commercial
vineyards, orchards, Christmas tree plantations, hop yards and even forest systems. Grape is by far the most vulnerable commercial crop. The greatest risk occurs when adults are active and may have prolonged periods of immigration into vineyard blocks. Nymphs may be present in vineyards especially if eggs were laid on vines or trellis posts the previous fall; grape is not a very good host for nymphal development when nymphs have no other host plants. Sprays directed at nymphs may be more practical than egg mass destruction, especially on many vines. Growers should assess bud mortality in infested vineyards, regardless of cold temperatures. A factsheet for SLF management in vineyards is available. Some damage to fruit crops, hops and some vegetables has been reported in
Pennsylvania; severity of this injury is being assessed. Because of huge populations that can develop, and its habit of producing large amounts of honeydew and resulting
sooty mold growth, it becomes a severe nuisance pest in residential areas. A factsheet for SLF management in residential areas has been posted.
Quarantine established for Virginia: On May 28, 2019,
the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(VDACS) announced the establishment of a quarantine to limit the
spread of SLF; this zone was significantly expanded in July 2022. A direct link to the quarantine document is linked here. Some of the key
provision of the quarantine are:
1) The regulated area includes Albemarle, Augusta, Carroll, Clarke, Frederick, Prince William, Rockingham, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, Warren and Wythe Counties, plus the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, Radford, Staunton and Waynesboro. Click here for a map of the quarantine zone.
2) The list of regulated articles is long - basically any materials left outside! Examples include plants, outdoor industrial
materials, shipping containers, outdoor household articles, conveyances and others
3) Regulated articles may be moved from the quarantine area if they have been inspected, and are accompanied by a permit;
4) Regulated articles may be moved within the quarantine area following an inspection; a certificate is not required.
5) From April 1-Dec 31, regulated articles may be moved through the regulated are without stopping, or stopping only for fuel or traffic conditions.
6) To obtain a permit to move regulated articles, a person doing business must complete a VDACS-approved training (see below) and agree to train employees on identification of SLF.
The training needed to obtain a SLF permit is available online. There is a $6.00
fee. After an individual applies to take the course, it may
take up to 10 hours to be formally enrolled. Once the course
is completed, it may take up to two weeks to receive the
certificate. In practice, both of these intervals are often
Are control actions needed? There is currently an eradication (or at least slow-the-spread) program underway in the infestation zone. This consists of destruction of egg masses where possible, removal of tree of heaven by cutting combined with herbicide treatment (cutting alone will result in proliferation of tree since they will sprout from roots), and treatment of remaining larger trees with dinotefuran. Pesticide application for SLF on individual farms is not recommended at this time for just 1-2 individuals. When populations become established, especially in late summer and fall, when adults are immigrating, spraying edge rows may be as effective as spraying whole blocks. Integrated Pest Management calls for the use of multiple control tactics to suppress a pest. Unfortunately, with this new invasive pest, much work needs to be done on control measures.
Chemical control: The following insecticides have been effective:
(dinotefuran), Assail (acetamiprid), Actara (thiametoxam)
Organophosphates: Malathion, Imidan (phosmet)
Carbamate: Sevin (carbaryl)
Pyrethroids: Mustang Maxx (zeta-cypermethrin), Brigade (bifenthrin). Danitol (fenpropathrin) provides the best residual control in this class.
Organic materials: Insecticidal soap, BoteGHA (Beauveria bassiana)
In early season, a single spray targeted against nymphs may be sufficient; a provisional action threshold is 15-20 nymphs per vine. In the fall, when adults are moving into a vineyard, repeated applications may be needed; a provisional action threshold at this time is 5-10 adults per vine. There is risk to beneficial species and pollinators. It will be critical to observe Pre-Harvest intervals (PHI), and seasonal maxima (either in terms of number of applications, or amount of material (check label). It may be helpful to conserve the most effective insecticides, espcially those with short PHI, until the late season immigration of adults. The linked table contains useful information. Consult Pest Management Guides for Commercial and Home Fruit production, as well as Commercial Orchards.
SLF in Home Fruit: Much of the information presented above also applies to home fruit production. Home fruit trees and vines are more likely to be in small groups, possibly surrounded by ornamental and shade tree, some of which can harbor high numbers of SLF. SLF may form feeding aggregations on apple and peach in the fall; these are usually short-lived, and there will probably not be severe impacts on the trees or crops. Watch for accumulations of honeydew on the fruit, and use an appropriate insecticide if needed. As in commercial settings, grape will be the most vulnerable crop. Appropriate insecticides for home use include malathion, Sevin (carbaryl), pyrethroids (such as bifenthrin, permethrin or esfenvalerate), insecticidal soap and PyGanic (pyrethrum) (Sevin should not be applied on apple for the first month after bloom unless desired as a thinner). Residual life of pyrethrum is short, so this product may be more useful in the spring if nymphs occur in high numbers, than in fall, when there is continual immigration of new individuals. See also the fact sheet on SLF management in residential areas.
Biological control: Several native
generalist predators and parasitoids attack SLF, but not in
adequate numbers to achieve control. Natural enemies from the
home range of SLF are being studied under quarantine in the U.S.
Cultural control: Removal of tree of heaven
should be practiced, by cutting supplemented by herbicide
treatment. Leave a few larger trees, which are then treated
with dinotefuran. When adults return to TOH in late summer and
fall, they are killed by the insecticide.
If spotted lanternfly is found:
Circle traps for detecting SLF are available at Great Lakes IPM. If SLF is detected in traps or by other means, they should be reported for most counties. Finds within Frederick, Clarke and Warren need no longer be reported. Please report finds in other counties to you local VCE office. For Virginia vineyard infestations, please notify Doug Pfeiffer (dgpfeiff at vt.edu). In addition to reporting
the find, landowners should destroy the infestation if
possible. Several insecticides are very effective.
If the population has become widespread, there will be a
problem with continued immigration following initial control
with insecticides; therefore repeated applications may be
What Virginians Need To Know About the 2022 Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expansion
VCE SLF Web Site
SLF Management in Vineyards (English and Spanish)
SLF Management in Residential Areas (English and Spanish)
VT Pest Alert: English and Spanish
SLF Life Cycle Graphic: English
VDACS SLF link
USDA Factsheet in Spanish:
Best Management Practices for SLF
Look-alikes of SLF - avoid confusion!
Tree of Heaven Identification,
2022 Online Certification Course
SLF Permit application (to be accompanied by learning Credential following certification course)
Click here for a recorded presentation on SLF.
Updated 25 July 2023
Dara, S. K., L. Berringer, and S. P. Arthurs. 2015. Lycorma deliculata (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae): A new invasive pest in the United States. J. Integr. Pest Manag. 6: 1-6.
Dechaine, A. C., M. Sutphin, T. C. Leskey, S. M. Salom, T. P. Kuhar and D. G. Pfeiffer. 2021. Phenology of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in Virginia, USA. Environ. Entomol. 50: 1267-1275. (https://academic.oup.com/ee/article/50/6/1267/6382325)
Harner, A. D., H. L. Leach, L. Briggs and M. Centinari. 2022. Prolonged phloem feeding by the spotted lanternfly, an invasive planthopper, alters resource allocation and inhibits gas exchange in grapevines. Plant Dir. 6: e452. 18 p.
Leach, A. and H. Leach. 2020. Characterizing the spatial distributions of spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in Pennsylvania vineyards. Sci. Rep. 10: 20588.
Leach, H. and A. Leach. 2020. Seasonal phenology and activity of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in eastern US vineyards. J. Pest Sci. 93: 1215-1224.
Liu, H. 2020. Seasonal development, cumulative growing degree days, and population density of spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) on selected hosts and substrates. Environ. Entomol. 49: 1171-1184.
Smyers, E. C., J. M. Urban, A. C. Dechaine, D. G. Pfeiffer, S. R Crawford and D. C. Calvin. 2021. Spatial-temporal model for predicting spring hatch of the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae). Environ. Entomol. 50: 126-137. (https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvaa129) (part of ESA Special Collection on spotted lanternfly research, https://academic.oup.com/ee/pages/research-on-spotted-lanternfly)
Nixon, L, H. Leach, C. Barnes, J. Urban, D. Kirkpatrick, D. Ludwick, B. Short, D. G. Pfeiffer and T. C. Leskey. 2020. Development of behaviorally based monitoring and biosurveillance tools for the invasive spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae Lycorma delicatula). Environ. Entomol. 49: 1117-1126. (https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvaa084)
Spotted lanternfly reseach supported by USDA-NIFA-SCRI project 2019-51181-30014, and the Virginia Vineyards Association.
Links to Virginia Chemical Control Recommendations:
- 2022 Pest Management Guides
Back to Virginia Vineyard page
Back to Virginia Fruit Web Page