Invasive bug causes concern in Pennsylvania

An adult Spotted Lanternfly can be 1” long and 1/2” wide. Photo from Rutgers Entomology.

The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive insect that has made its way to the Eastern United States. Originally from China, India, and Vietnam, this pest has proved destructive in Korea and now possibly Pennsylvania too. Officials warn that it could greatly impact agriculture and logging.

A study recently done in Korea, determined the potential distribution of the Lanternfly based on existing data from its native homes and in Korea. Researchers observed that the plant hopper has been increasing in Korea since 2006 due to the warm climate and increasingly warmer winters that allow for their eggs to survive. In 2008 and 2009 it was responsible for severe damage to agriculture, particularly sappy fruit trees.

The study used the software CLIMEX to determine where the pest might invade next, based on the effects of climate change. They saw increased settlement in warmer climates and higher, faster hatching rates. With a warming climate, more areas of the world are going to prove hospitable to the invasive insect. That may be the cause of the bugs appearance in Pennsylvania, which was also indicated to occur from the study. 

A group of nymphs and adults on a tree. To grow, the nymphs must feed on host trees. Photo from Penn State.

In 2014, the existence of Lycorma delicatula was confirmed in Berks County, Pennsylvania and it has now invaded several neighboring counties. It prefers woody plants, such as trees. Using its sucking mouth parts, the insect will remove sap from plants, leaving behind a substance that can cause mold. The Tree of Heaven is a known host, and the weeping wounds they develop after a visit from the Lanternfly may attract other insects. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has reached out to locals to identify and report sightings of the insect. Visit their website to see what you can do to help prevent the Spotted Lanternfly from spreading even further across America.


Sources: Jung, J., Jung, S., Byeon, D., Lee, W. (2017)  Model-based prediction of potential distribution of the invasive insect pest, spotted lanternfly Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), by using CLIMEX. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity 10: 532-538.





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