Spotted Lanternfly

Lycorma delicatula

Key Features

  • Liquid excrement and black mold
  • White spotted red or black insects
  • Black spotted winged insects
Spread adult spotted lanternfly Photo by Jenn Forman Orth
Late stage nymph of spotted lanternfly Photo by Lawrence Barringer Pennsylvania Department of Ag.
Spotted Lanternfly and adults, sooty mold on trunk, Photo by Emelle Swackhamer Pennsylvania State University,


Infested trees are coated with liquid insect excrement called honeydew that accumulates on the trunk and tree base. This liquid turns black as it becomes infested with a sooty mold. Removal of large amounts of plant sap by these insects rob the tree of sugars and dramatically change normal growth processes. Some trees become less able to withstand winter, and fruit quality and flavor can be changed. Liquid excrement attracts stinging wasps that can be a nuisance. Wax covered egg masses can be laid on trunks, fence posts, stone or brick near infested trees.

Egg mass of spotted lanternfly in autumn Photo by Lawrence Barringer Pennsylvania Department of Ag.
Hatched (top) and unhatched Egg mass of SLH Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture
Honeydew oozing from trunk infested with spotted lanternfly, Photo by Emelle Swackhamer Pennsylvania State University


This insect winters in the egg stage, covered in a faded tan wax that appears cracked by spring. Black spotted nymphs will hatch from eggs and begin feeding and producing honeydew in May. Nymphs grow and molt into two more stages of white spotted black insects. In July after the fourth molt these wingless nymphs are bright red with white spots. Adults are almost an inch long, have grey wings and appear moth-like to the untrained eye. Adults emerge late July who expose brilliant red hind wings while flying short distances on or between trees. Adults will readily attack and feed on a wide variety of plants on the way to trees where they will lay eggs and reproduce. Although current literature suggests that adult females must feed on tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to be able to reproduce, researchers suspect the list of acceptable trees is much broader. Rows of eggs laid in summer are coated with white wax that fades to a muddy gray color in the fall. Eventually the wax cracks by March as the grey color fades.

Spotted lanternfly at rest, Photo by John Cordes
Young nymph of spotted lanternfly Photo by Lawrence Barringer Pennsylvania Department of Ag.
Adult male and female spotted lanternfly and egg mass. Photo by E. Barnes

Management Recommendations

The spotted lanternfly is a regulated pest that has been detected in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. If you purchase or receive any nursery stock, Christmas trees, stone or landscaping material from the infested part of the country, be sure to inspect them carefully for egg masses. Inspect stands of tree of heaven in the summer months for unusually heavy accumulations of honeydew or the presence of the distinctive immature and adult stages of this pest. If you find this pest, please use the "useful links" button on the homepage for detailed information about this pest to report your find to local authorities. If you are in Indiana please use the "Report SLF Here" link or call 1866-N0-EXOTIC to report this pest. In Indiana, there are still state programs in place to slow the population growth of this pest.

Effective Pesticides

Active Ingredients include: Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid

landscape report
Purdue Landscape Report
Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory