If you grow fruit, watch for spotted lanternfly

STEUBENVILLE — If you grow fruit, whether in the backyard or on a commercial scale, spotted lanternfly should be on your radar, cautions the Ohio State University Extension.

Spotted lanternfly is a recent invasive species identified in 2014 near Philadelphia, although it likely arrived in the United States in 2012 in a stone shipment, according to a news release from Erika Lyon, Extension educator, ag and natural resources, OSU Extension Jefferson and Harrison counties. The office is located in Suite 512, 500 Market St. The phone number is (740) 264-2212, extension 203 or (740) 942-8823 in the Harrison office. Lyon’s e-mail is lyon.194@osu.edu.

The spotted lanternfly is an insect native to Vietnam, China and India. Since its arrival, it has spread to 14 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania as well as states including Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia. While spotted lanternfly cannot travel far on its own due to its poor flying ability, long-distance spread is possible with human assistance. Adults will lay eggs on surfaces such as stone, bark, furniture, cars and trains.

“Spotted lanternfly is easy to identify — this insect has bright red underwings, speckled banding on the rear of the forewings and bright yellow stripes trailing down the sides of the abdomen,” Lyon noted. Nymphs are either black (younger) or bright red (older) and are covered in white spots. “It can cause extensive damage to some of our favorite fruit and nut crops — apples, plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, grapes and walnuts to name a few. Nymphs have a much wider host range that include crops of economic importance while the adults usually are found on tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), another invasive species of similar origin,” she added.

Damage to crops is a result of the feeding behavior of the nymphs that use sucking mouthparts to extract sap from plant tissue. Feeding by many of these insects eventually can kill the host plant. Ooze produced from feeding also attracts more insects to the wound. Spotted lanternflies also produce a sugar-rich fluid that causes sooty mold to develop around the wounding site, according to Lyon.

“Ohio State University Extension encourages people to keep an eye out for this new invasive pest species. If you have recently traveled to an area that has been quarantined, check your vehicle for the grey or brown glob-like egg masses. Check host plants at dusk or at night for spotted lanternflies moving up and down tree trunks,” Lyon noted.

“During the daytime, spotted lanternflies can congregate at the base of a host provided there is sufficient canopy cover. If you suspect that spotted lanternfly is in your area, contact our office at (740) 264-2212 or the Ohio Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control Section at (614) 728-6400. The Great Lakes Early Detection Network also is a valuable tool that can be used to track spotted lanternfly,” she said, noting that GLEDN is an app designed for early detection of invasive species in the Great Lakes region and is available on the App Store or Google Play.

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