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State warns of destructive new invasive species: the spotted lanternfly

Posted at 10:44 AM, Jun 23, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — There’s a new danger to Michigan’s crops and plants: an invasive species of insect called the spotted lanternfly.

It’s pretty, but it’s bad, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

As its name would imply, the spotted lanternfly two sets of wings, the uppermost with spots; the second pair is a bright red and black.

The spotted lanternfly is known to damage or kill more than 70 different crops and native plants, from grapes and apples to hardwood trees.

The insect damages plants by sucking sap and leaving behind a sticky goo called honeydew. That develops into a black mold that can be sooty and can kill plants and attract other insects, such as wasps and ants. This affects crops and plants in recreational areas.

They don’t fly far, but they are consummate hitchhikers. Having only appeared in the U.S. in 2014, they have spread from southeastern Pennsylvania to infest parts of Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, and West Virginia.

The spotted lanternfly is native to China, India, and Vietnam, and it has not been seen yet in Michigan but would do untold damage to the state’s fruit crops and forest trees.

  • The egg masses are gray and waxy and look like old chewing gum.
  • The nymphs look like beetles, black with spots, no wings
  • Adults are about an inch long.

If you see anything like this, take some pictures and sent them with information on where you saw them to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, or phone the MDARD Customer Service Center, 800-292-3939. If possible, collect a specimen in a container for verification. You can also report it to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.