Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper insect that was introduced into the United States in 2014. Native to China, this pest is associated with the invasive Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) but can also cause significant damage to grape, apple, stone fruits, and walnut. Although not currently found in Rhode Island, this pest has established populations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia with individual finds in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Spotted Lanternfly is predicted to spread further north and east, putting Rhode Island at high risk.
Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is plant hopper, a type of “true bug” that uses a stylet (or beak) to pierce plant tissue for feeding. In addition to the spotted patterning, the adult SLF’s unique colors feature scarlet underwings, yellow markings on its abdomen, and tan semi-transparent forewings. Adults about an inch in length and can be found late July into November. The nymph stage appears in June and July and feature strikingly bright red and black bodies with white spotting. Early stage nymphs lack the red color and appear completely black.
As of October 2020, the closest known location of Spotted Lanternfly to Rhode Island is in Connecticut. The closest and most current finding of SLF is in Greenwich, CT, where officials recently announced the detection of a population of the pest. Single insect findings have occurred in other locations of Connecticut, including in West Haven in 2020, Southbury in 2019, and Farmington in 2018. Neighboring Massachusetts has also recently had two findings of dead SLF adults in Norwood and Milford. Although they can fly distances on their own, they are excellent hitch hikers and mainly spread through human movement. Their inconspicuous egg masses can be laid on pallets, vehicles, and other goods. It’s important to inspect shipping and adhere to travel restrictions when moving through a quarantined area.
So far, Rhode Island has not had any finds of Spotted Lanternfly.
The RI DEM Division of Agriculture’s CAPS Program is currently conducting a statewide survey for the pest. The survey locations have included local vineyards and areas with a large population of Tree of Heaven.
In addition to its spotted patterning, the adult SLF’s unique colors feature scarlet underwings, yellow markings on the abdomen, and tan semi-transparent forewings. Adult lanternflies are about an inch long and are active from August until the first hard freeze, which typically occurs from late October into November.
If you suspect you found a spotted lanternfly
Early detection is key to avoid a spotted lanternfly introduction in Rhode Island. Help us prevent spotted lanternfly by learning how to identify the egg, nymph, and adult life stages of this pest. If you suspect you found a spotted lanternfly take a photo and try to collect a specimen. Then, contact the URI Biocontrol Lab or report this find to DEM's Pest Alert Form.Report Sighting
Downloadable Materials For Businesses
Although SLF can fly distances on its own, these pests are excellent hitch hikers and mainly spread through human movement. Their inconspicuous egg masses can be laid on pallets, vehicles and other goods, so it is important to inspect shipping materials and adhere to travel restrictions when moving through areas that are under quarantine for SLF. The following tips can help stop the spread of SLF:
- Inspect firewood, vehicles, outdoor furniture, and camping gear for egg masses, nymphs, and adults.
- If you visit states with SLF, check all your gear and equipment before leaving and scrape off any egg masses.
SLF was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has quickly spread through surrounding states. In Pennsylvania, where the pest has been spreading for over six years, there has been significant yield loss in vineyards and the insect has become a public nuisance.
Here’s how businesses can help. Visit the USDA's website for free outreach materials to alert your team about the spotted lanternfly and how they can help stop it.
- URI Biocontrol Projects: Spotted Lanternfly
- Penn State Extension’s What to Look For page.
- SLF News: ARS Scientists Seek Answers from Spotted Lanternfly Dispersal
- SLF News: Spotted lanternflies have infested the region and researchers are hard at work trying to control their spread
- SLF News: Vineyards Facing An Insect Invasion May Turn To Aliens For Help
- SLF News: Plant Pro: Spotted Lanternfly