Spotted Lanternfly: What to Look For - Amy Stone Thomas deHaas


Recently, an Ohioan returned from a road trip to Pennsylvania. In addition to all the memories made, this traveler unintentionally brought back a hitch-hiker – a spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) (SLF). The individual quickly captured and ended the insect’s life before reaching out to his local Extension Educator. The suspect sample was submitted to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) for confirmation based on the USDA protocol established to confirm non-native pests not currently established, or with limited presence in the case of Asian Longhorned beetle, in the state.

SLF is well-known for its ability to hitch-hike into a new area within an already infested state, or in the case of Ohio, a state that is currently considered uninfested. If you are traveling to, or through, and infested area, you are encouraged to check your vehicle and any items that may have been outdoors during the trip (i.e., tents, camping supplies, recreational equipment). It is important to know that states have quarantines in place to limit the unnatural spread of SLF both within their state and other states and includes both any stage of the actual insect andanyitem that could move the insect (i.e., plant material, firewood, logs, outdoor furniture).

We are continuing to encourage all Ohioans to join our ‘Spot the Spot’ team by reporting tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) using the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) App and then revisiting that tree(s) looking for signs and symptoms of SLF.

Currently, the seeds that are present on the female tree-of-heaven, really stand out as they are changing colors from a cream to light green to light pink, to darker shades of pinks to maroon to brown. The trees have compound leaves and each leaf ranges from a foot to a yard in length – that is one BIG leaf! The leaves have an unpleasant odor when crushed. Some describe it as rancid peanut butter. While we can’t share that smell via BYGL, we can share a recent photo.

Photo Credit: Thomas deHaas, OSU Extension - Lake County

Your SLF observations can be reported as a negative report on the App to alert us to who is looking for SLF in Ohio. Reports can be done once, or ideally the location can be observed on a regular basis through the fall with multiple reports at each site. Once your area has received a hard freeze, the adult activity will cease, but egg masses that are present would remain over the winter and hatch in 2021.

Of course, if you suspect that you have observed SLF, you can report that as suspect on the GLEDN App, or by contacting ODA or your local OSU Extension Office directly. An actual specimen and/or photos of the insect are needed to help with the verification process.

If you want to help with these monitoring efforts, but would like more information to help you feel more comfortable or knowledgeable with both the SLF and tree-of-heaven, check out this YouTube video created by Andrew Holden and Thomas deHaas with OSU Extension. Click here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQBL7btoAsU

Thank you in advance if you help with the ‘Spot the Spot’ efforts in Ohio. While we hope that you don’t find SLF, if it is present in Ohio, it is important that early detection occurs and that is why we need as many eyes looking.