I heard a news report that the Spotted Lanternfly was sighted in Port Clinton in early September. This is a concern for grape producers as these planthoppers have been reported to feed on wild and domestic grapes. They also feed on hops, fruit trees, willows and various hardwood trees, pines, shrubs and vines.
The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive insect native to China, India and Vietnam. Spotted Lanternfly was first detected in eastern Pennsylvania in the county of Berks in September 2014. It was likely brought to the United States by imported woody plants, wood products and other commodities.
Spotted Lanternfly has the potential to cause harm to the fruit tree, grape and hops industries. Spotted Lanternfly was first detected in Ohio in October 2021 in Jefferson County and then in Cuyahoga County.
This new invasive insect is in the Hemiptera order or the True Bugs in the family Fulgoridae, otherwise known as Planthoppers. True Bugs have straw like mouthparts that enable them to suck juices from their hosts. The sucking mouth part, called a proboscis (pro-boss-kiss), is different than that of other insects. Using a high-power microscope, it is easy to see that True Bugs have a mouth that looks and works differently than other insects. It looks like a long beak and works much like a straw you might use to drink from a juice box. If you look at the mouth parts of other insects with a beak-like proboscis, such as a honeybee or butterfly, you can see that the proboscis is retractable, by rolling it up.
The proboscis of a True Bug is not retractable. Insects with movable mouthparts, such as beetles and grasshoppers, allow them to move food from the source to their mouth. The proboscis of a True Bug is more rigid and cannot chew.
What is interesting about the Spotted Lanternfly is its close relationship with the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) which is also an invasive species. Based on what has been observed in Pennsylvania, the spotted lanternfly has a one-year lifecycle.
Adults lay eggs in late fall through the first freeze. Eggs are laid on host plants with the Tree of Heaven being of primary importance followed by any flat surface in clusters of 30–50 eggs arranged in 4–7 columns of aligned seed-like eggs. These columns of eggs, measuring approximately 1 inch in length, are covered in a mud-like substance by the female. This coating begins as a light gray but darkens and cracks with age.
In general, first hatch begins in late April to early May. Data is still being collected to determine the number of growing degree days to determine egg hatch more precisely. While nymphs are flightless, they are strong jumpers and use this ability to disperse to a wide variety of host plants besides the Tree of Heaven to feed. Adults typically emerge beginning in mid-July. As winged adults, they are weak flyers but can and do fly, in addition to jumping, to disperse their numbers. Adults also feed on several host plants; however, again they show a strong preference for Tree of Heaven and Grapevines (Vitis sp.). Adults mate in early fall to continue the cycle.
For identification purposes, after the eggs hatch in late spring, the Spotted Lanternfly goes through four nymph stages. During the first three they appear black with white spots, and in the last stage, which typically occurs during mid-summer, they are red with white dots and black stripes. During the late summer and autumn, the Spotted Lanternfly is in the adult moth stage. These adults are somewhat large (approximately 1 inch), with black bodies and brightly colored wings.
As with any new invasive species, early prevention and detection are crucial to manage the spread and impact of these non-native pests. If you spot a lanternfly at any life stage, take a picture, or collect a sample and report the finding to the Ohio Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control using their Ohio Plant Pest Reporter at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/1b36dd2cf09e4be0a79776a6104ce1dc or by phone at (614) 728-6201.