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WVU Extension expert provides tips for dealing with invasive spotted lanternfly

A spotted lanternfly rests on a tree. The striking insect has red, white, black and tan spotted wings, and can be easily identified.

The spotted lanternfly, shown here on a tree stump, is an invasive species from Asia and a great threat to agricultural industries in the U.S., according to a West Virginia University entomology expert. (Submitted Photo)

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It is hatching season for the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect from Asia that a West Virginia University expert describes as a “serious economic threat” to agricultural industries.

First detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly has since been found in several other states, including multiple counties in West Virginia — Berkeley, Brooke, Mineral, Morgan, Hampshire and Jefferson.

Carlos Quesada, WVU Extension entomology specialist and assistant professor in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, is offering advice on how to best handle the invasive insects.


“Because it can feed on more than 70 different plant species, the spotted lanternfly is a serious economic threat to multiple agricultural industries. Spotted lanternflies do not bite, sting, or transmit disease to humans or pets.

“The spotted lanternfly lays eggs from September to December, which are covered in a white, putty-like substance that looks like cracked mud to keep them through the winter. Egg masses are laid on hard surfaces, including trees, stones, patio furniture, plant containers and vehicles. These eggs hatch during May and June.

“Both adults and nymph spotted lanternflies feed by sucking sap from trees through a sharp, needle-like beak, which can result in leaf curl, wilt, tree dieback and death of the tree. Tree dieback caused by a high infestation of spotted lanternflies has been observed on black walnut, willow, staghorn sumac and maple trees.

“The spotted lanternfly also excretes honeydew, a sugary substance, which attacks wasps and produces sooty mold fungus. Sooty mold doesn’t affect plants directly but can reduce photosynthesis.

“Before you move material out of a place where spotted lanternflies are present, check for and remove all stages of the insect. Smash or scrape the eggs downward using a stick, plastic card or putty knife into a bottle or bag filled with rubbing alcohol. Trapping can be effective in managing the nymphal stage.

“Spotted lanternfly nymphs move up and down on the trunk of trees, making them easy to capture by wrapping the tree trunks with specialized bands that have an adhesive outer layer or by placing a spotted lanternfly circle trap. Report any stage of spotted lanternfly to or call 681-313-9140.” — Carlos Quesada, entomology specialist, WVU Extension

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