What Is a Spotted Lanternfly?

What is a lanternfly? You might have heard lots of buzz about this new pest in the news and on social media. But why is the spotted lanternfly a problem, and what can you do about it?

Keep reading to learn more about the spotted lanternfly in Ohio and Kentucky.

What Is the Spotted Lanternfly?

The spotted lanternfly is a type of insect often called “planthoppers.” Planthopper insects feed on plants and are good jumpers.

Spotted lanternflies are native to Asia—specifically China, though they have also been found in South Korea and Japan.

The spotted lanternfly goes through four stages of growth, during which they are wingless. As adults, however, they are about an inch long, with gray-brown forewings that have dark spots. When they take flight, their hindwings emerge, which are a bright red with black and white patches. The spotted lanternfly’s abdomen is yellow with black stripes.

This colorful insect lives for a year, hatching in May and remaining active until December.

Spotted lanternflies are considered an invasive species in the United States. They were first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since that initial sighting, the spotted lanternfly has been found in fourteen states, including Ohio.

While lanternflies have wings, they don’t tend to fly very far. Instead, their spread is mostly due to people, who unwittingly carry them to new places during their egg stage. The eggs might be carried on shipping pallets, furniture, or boats.

Why Are Lanternflies a Problem?

A plant or animal is considered an invasive species when it meets two criteria:

  • The species is not native to an area
  • The species harms the native plants and/or animals of the region

Not all species introduced to new regions are invasive. A species is classified as invasive when it causes environmental (and often economic harm). Invasive species adapt and reproduce quickly, typically crowding out other species and outcompeting them for food. They throw the local ecosystem out of balance. They can also cause economic harm by destroying crops.

Spotted lanternflies are considered an invasive species because of the damage they do to trees and other plants, particularly fruit trees, grape vines and other agricultural crops like hops.

This pest also feeds on a wide range of fruit, wood, and ornamental trees. They feed on the sap of trees, and their secretions cause black sooty mold growth. The mold can damage and kill the trees. This is not only damaging ecologically but also economically, for orchard owners, nursery owners, and other members of the agricultural industry.

What to Do If You Spot a Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly has been designated a destructive plant pest under Ohio law. This means Ohio has increased inspections and restricts the movement of certain items from infested to non-infested counties.

If you move any outdoor items that have a high risk of spreading spotted lanternflies, the Ohio Department of Agriculture asks you to complete a self-inspection checklist. The checklist includes checking for lanternflies at all life stages before transport.

If you see any spotted lanternflies in your area, report them online using the Ohio Plant Pest Reporter or by calling 1-888-4BADFLY. Take a picture, then kill the bug! (It might seem mean, but they’re an invasive species. We need to get rid of them!)

Call ScherZinger Pest Control

ScherZinger Pest Control is here to help with all your pest problems—whether you need help with stinging insects, rodents, cockroaches, bed bugs, or another pest.

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our websiteFacebook, or Twitter.