SLFeggsWinch19Jan2018e.jpgSLFN4 Winch2Jul2018 2c.jpgSLFadult15Aug2018Cropped.jpg

Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula White

The insect:  The spotted lanternfly (SLF) originates from 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. There is one generation per year.  The eggs overwinter, with nymphs appearing in April.  The first three nymphal instars are black with white spots.  The fourth and final instar becomes bright red, with white and black markings. Adults appear in mid-July. These 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.  In 2018, coursthip behavior was seen on Sep 12, with first eggs detected on Sep 17.


Spread to US and Virginia:  In September 2014, the first detection of SLF in the US was confirmed in eastern Pennsylvania. In 2017, the range expanded to 13 Pennsylvania counties and a single county in both Delaware and New York. Live adults were found in Albany, and the Finger Lakes region of New York in September 2018.  Populations have been found in New Jersey. 
Egg masses and dead adults were found in Winchester in January 2018, reflecting population development in 2017.  The known infestation zone in Virginia is so far limited to an approximately 1 square mile block in Winchester, Frederick County.  An eradication effort is underway.  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.

Pest status:  This insect is likely to pose a threat to commercial vineyards, orchards, and even forest systems.  Severe damage to fruit crops, hops and some vegetables have been reported in Pennsylvania.

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 are not recommended at this time, because of the limited spread.  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:  Several insecticides are very effective. Repeated applications may be needed. There is risk to beneficial species and pollinators.
    Biological control:  Several native generalist predators and parasitoids attack SLF, but not in adequate numbers to achieve control.  Natural enemies in the home range of SLF are being sought.
    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:  Suspected finds in Virginia should be reported at:   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 needed.  In preliminary trials in Pennsylvania, the following insecticides have been highly effective:

    Neonicotinoids: Venom (dinotefuran), Assail (acetamiprid), Actara (thiametoxam)
    Organophosphates: Malathion, Imidan (phosmet)
    Carbamate: Sevin (carbaryl)
    Pyrethroids: Less effective, but variable.
    Organic materials: Insecticidal soap
Updated recommendations for tree fruits and grape (Aug 2018) have been posted by researchers at Penn State University.
VCE Web Site

VT Factsheet

VT Pest Alert:  English and Spanish


USDA Factsheet in Spanish:

Tree of Heaven Identification, Coloring Sheet

Click here for a recorded presentation on SLF.

This is taken primarily from a Virginia Tech Factsheet

Additional Reading:
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.

  • Back to Virginia Vineyard page 
    Back to Virginia Fruit Web Page