Spotting Lanternfly: How to Identify + Report

September 18, 2020
Arden Blumenthal, Conservation Dogs Program Assistant
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Spotting Lanternfly: How to Identify + Report
LF-spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) winged adult 4th instar nymph (red body) in Pennsylvania, on July 20, 2018. USDA-ARS Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

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Spotted lanternfly (SLF) has been found in New York and New Jersey—and you need to be aware of the threat it poses to our region.

First discovered in Berks County, Pa., in 2014, these planthoppers are native to China, India, and Vietnam. They are thought to have arrived in the States as egg masses on a shipment of stone. These ravenous bugs feed on over 70 species of plants, including maple, walnut, fruit trees, and even grapevines and hops. SLF physically stress plants by draining vital nutrients and leaving sticky excrement that promotes the growth of harmful black mold. Should lanternfly proceed unchecked through New York and New Jersey, both the environmental and economic impacts of a lanternfly feeding frenzy could be significant. 

For perspective, New York alone has a $52.3 million annual grape yield contributing to a $4.8 billion wine and grape industry. Currently, there are a total of eight quarantined counties with established populations in New Jersey.  Certain goods or materials cannot be transported out of these counties without following strict regulations.  Even still, 11 counties in New York State have confirmed sightings of spotted lanternfly believed to be hitchhikers from travelers’ cars or equipment. The pest has been found in a total of eight states.

How to Identify Spotted Lanternfly

Click here to watch a video about how to identify spotted lanternfly in its various lifecycles and how to remove egg masses

How to Report Sightings

If you think you’ve seen a spotted lanternfly or an egg mass, please send a picture and GPS location to [email protected] in New York or [email protected] in New Jersey.

Until an effective solution to eradicate spotted lanternfly is found, land managers and state and federal agencies are focusing on keeping populations under control. Preventing the spread of SLF to other counties and states presents another challenge. The Trail Conference has an innovative solution to this growing problem. Since August 2019, our Conservation Dogs program has partnered with NYS Parks, NYS Department of Transportation, and USDA to conduct cargo searches and field surveys for spotted lanternfly. Because human eyesight is not always a reliable way to find these harmful bugs, conservation dogs’ incredible sense of smell is an ideal method to search for them. With financial and volunteer support, the Trail Conference can expand this program and keep spotted lanternfly and other invasive plant and pest species under control, limiting their impact. Find out how you can be part of the solution at nynjtc.org/dogs.

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