The spotted lanternfly is a non-native invasive insect species that arrived in Pennsylvania in 2014. It is believed that the insect came to PA from Asia on the “Tree of Heaven” (Ailanthus altissima) also an invasive tree species native to Asia. When this insect species was accidentally introduce to Korea, no controls were put in place and insect species was accidentally introduced to Korea, no controls were put in place and the insects devastated the Korean peach industry in just three years.
The adult spotted lanternfly looks like a butterfly or moth, but it is important to note that it is a leafhopper. Although the spotted lanternfly is harmless to humans, it attacks grapes, pine trees, apple trees, hops, as well as other hardwoods and stone fruit trees. The insect also secretes a substance called honeydew on which grows a black sooty mold. This substance prevents plants from being able to photosynthesize and therefor also leads to the degradation of the plant. The spotted lanternfly has no known natural predator in the United States and threatens to impart $18 billion of agricultural damage within Pennsylvania. For this reason and to help protect other farming operations outside of the current quarantine area of PA, it is essential that community members join together in efforts to eradicate them.