Biologists Warn About Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

By Dana Kobilinsky

An adult spotted lanternfly crawls on the ground. Image Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture courtesy Bugwood, licensed by cc 2.0

A small and colorful invasive insect is proving to be a threat to Pennsylvania’s plants — and entomologists say it will likely spread across the United States.

Originally from China, the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) was first introduced to Pennsylvania last year and will likely spread as far as California, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management.

The inch-long red and brown insect can damage crops, timber and ornamental plants including species such as grapes, peaches and apple plants. The insects spread to Korea and Japan before showing up in Berks County, Penn. “I don’t want to scare people,” said Surendra Dara, one of the coauthors of the study in a press release. “But it has the potential to spread, and we do not have a biological-control agent.”

The study includes descriptions of nymphs and adult spotted lanternflies as well as descriptions of their feeding methods that damage trees and plants.

While the lanternfly is now only in one area of Pennsylvania, Dara said managers in other parts of the state and in other states should watch out for the appearance of the harmful invasive species.

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is associate editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

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