The Bouncing Brute

Kelly’s Field Notes

Common Name: Spotted Lanternfly

Order: Hemiptera

Suborder: Auchenorrhyncha - leafhoppers, planthoppers, treehoppers, cicadas, spittlebugs

Family: Fulgoridae

Genus: Lycorma

Species: Lycorma delicatula


Spotted lanternflies are very unique in appearance at every stage of their lives! Their eggs almost look like lichen on a tree trunk. As first through third instar nymphs they are black with bright white spots, then as fourth instars red with black and white markings. As adults spotted lantern flies are immediately recognizable with their black-tipped spotted wings and red hind wings. Spotted lanternfly adults are about one inch long (2.54 cm) and pretty chunky at 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) wide.

Spotted lanternflies are a new invasive species to North America, native to China, Japan, and Vietnam (some studies claim they may also be native to Taiwan and India). They were first detected there in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in September of 2014. This species is native to China and likely arrived in Pennsylvania on a stone shipment. They cannot travel far on their own, so they get spread around via human transportation. Please don’t carry wood across state lines as this is a known spreader of invasive species! Lanternflies were found on Tree of Life (Ailanthus altissima) in Pennsylvania, their preferred tree in their homeland which is also invasive to North America. Spotted lanternflies are pests in North America, feeding on a wide variety of crop plants, including apples, hops, grapes, walnuts, and hardwood trees. They produce honeydew as waste which attracts other insects such as wasps. Additionally, that honeydew is also a food for the sooty mold fungus (other honeydew producing insects also do this). 

As of this writing (June 2, 2023) the spotted lanternfly is present in the following 16 states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Rhode Island

Life Cycle:

Spotted lanternflies are univoltine (producing one brood per year). Their life cycle takes one year. Females mate then lay their eggs in the Fall (until the killing frost comes), 30 to 50 eggs at a time which are coated in a protective layer so they can survive the winter. The egg masses resemble lichen on tree trunks, laid in single lines along the trunk. While they generally lay on trees, they can lay on any flat surface including manufactured surfaces. During May and June the eggs will hatch into first instar nymphs. The nymphs are about 0.63 cm in length (0.25 in) and pretty easy to spot as they black with white spots. You’ll see 1st through 3rd instars from May to July. Their mouthparts at this stage cannot pierce woody tissue, so you’re likely to find them on softer tissue annuals or perennials.

The red, black, and white 4th instars are present between July and September. Finally, the very brightly colored adult stage starts to appear in July and will remain until December in some regions. Fourth instars and adults are able to penetrate woody tissue and seem to prefer their home tree, the Tree of Heaven (A. altissima), though adults move on from this tree in the fall to other food sources. Researchers are not sure why, but it might be reduced sap flow and the lanternfly’s weak muscles associated with pumping.* They move on to grapes (Vitis spp.), black walnut (Fuglans niger), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), red maple (Acer rubrum), and willow (Salix spp.). Adults are very mobile! They can hop, jump, or fly up to 4 miles from where they started.

*Tree of Heaven is important to the spotted lanternfly development. One study gave one group of 1st instars access to weeping willow (Salix bablyonica) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and a second group access to weeping willow (Salix bablyonica) and Tree of Heaven. While both groups were able to complete their life cycles and become adults, the group given access to Tree of Heaven had a 10% higher survival rate. Adult survivorship is also higher on Tree of Heaven,

Mitigation Responses:

In order to mitigate the spread of the spotted lanternfly some states have set up exterior quarantine and protective zones (including Pennsylvania where this whole thing started). Examples listed next are from New York. Exterior quarantine zones restrict movements of goods brought into a state from quarantine areas. Anything coming from a quarantined state must be regulated and inspected by the Department of Agriculture and Markets; packing materials, landscaping and construction equipment, and nursery plants. Protective zones created by NY state are zones close to the NJ and PA infestation areas where the Department of Environmental Conservation has set up surveying, monitoring, and management to find and prevent the spread of the spotted lanternfly. 

Entire communities have also banded together to stomp out lanternflies. Children and adults are finding creative ways to stomp, spray, and bottle up lanternflies. There are even apps out there that gamify the stomping, such as Squishr which tracks your stomp score and the location of stomped lanternflies. If squishing makes you queasy, you can also hold a bottle over the lanternfly and take advantage of their urge to hop, they will fling themselves right into the back of the bottle. Once caught you can put the bottle in the freezer which will humanely kill the lanternflies. Spraying a 50/50 mixture of soap onto lanternflies will also kill them as it clogs their spiracles (this will work on every terrestrial bug). 

Super Powers:

What You Can Do to Stop the Spread ( Instructions): 


Nixon, Laura J., et al. "Development of rearing methodology for the invasive Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae)." Frontiers in Insect Science 2 (2022): 1025193.

“Spotted Lanternfly Biology and Lifecycle.” CALS,

“Spotted Lanternfly Reported Distribution Map.” CALS,

Urban, Julie M., and Heather Leach. "Biology and management of the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), in the United States." Annual Review of Entomology 68 (2023): 151-167.

‌“USDA APHIS | Spotted Lanternfly.”, 2014,

Uyi, Osariyekemwen, et al. "Spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) can complete development and reproduce without access to the preferred host, Ailanthus altissima." Environmental entomology 49.5 (2020): 1185-1190.