Maryland is Bracing for an Invasion of the Spotted Lantern Fly

Lantern Fly is a moth
Lanternfly is a moth

Here in Maryland, we are still shell shocked from the smelly Stink Bug Invasion and we need to get ready for an even worse invasive species that is making its home here on the East Coast. Starting just four years ago in Bucks County Pennsylvania when a shipment of stone from Asia arrived with Lanternfly eggs attached, the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to China and was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014.

Spotted Lanternfly is a one inch long plant hopper who feeds on ornamental and fruit trees, with Ailianthus, or Tree of Heaven, another invasive, its preferred hosts. Smelling like well-used gym socks, this tree appears everywhere along roads, in cracks of sidewalks, and anywhere it drops a seed. Signs of an infestation are weeping wounds that leave a greyish or black trail along the trunk. Weeping sap attracts other insects to feed, notably wasps and ants. Egg masses are laid on host trees and other smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and structures in late Fall.

Tree of Heaven is ubiquitous in the mid-Atlantic

Spotted Lanternflies are invasive and can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses.

Just spotted recently in Cecil County, Maryland, this noxious pest is poised to spread throughout Maryland in the next couple of years. Orchards and vineyards will be the first to be invaded and they will spread from there to homes.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the spotted Lanternfly has been spotted in 13 counties of Pa- Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill. My first sighting of the Lanterfly was at a friends house in Montgomery County, PA, when I spotted one perched on the side of the house.

Since it is new to the United States, little is known about its behavior and biology, but researchers are feverishly gathering information and scientific data on how to manage this pest. Aerial spraying is not an option as large-scale spraying of this type can kill native species and cause more harm to the environment.

Right now, the recommendation is to destroy the bug or egg mass to stop the spread. Adults will lay egg masses on host trees and nearby smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and structures.

If you spot these pests, go to Spotted Lanterfly Alert for a link to report it.

9 Replies to “Maryland is Bracing for an Invasion of the Spotted Lantern Fly”

  1. So everyone should spread the word to be observant so our beautiful ornamental and fruit trees won’t suffer such damage. Thanks, Claire for the heads up..keep us posted on sightings to raise awareness.

  2. Thanks, Claire for educating us. Keep us posted on sightings of the pest so we can be even more vigilant.
    Years ago I remember Gypsy Moths getting sprayed from planes. Now I never hear about them. I need to google to see if they are still a threat.

  3. What did your stinkbugs look like? In York, Maine, for the first time I had what I think are Harlequin bugs( very unusual coloring, like a shield) Very numerous and small when young- adults regular stink bug size. They were on snapdragons and raspberries. I can forward a photo I took, if you send an e-mail. My expert garden friend had never seen them either. Evidently they are bad bugs in vegetable gardens. It seems my area is not a normal range for them.So I’m thinking they may be another sign of climate change.

    1. It is the brown marmorated which is brownish grey edged in white spots. The harlequin is much flashier (orange and black) and they attack my cabbage and broccoli. They are more plentiful here than further north. I live in md

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