Detection of dead spotted lanternflies in Michigan highlights the need for vigilance

Know what to look for and report any sightings of this invasive pest.

spotted lanternfly
Photo by Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org

This week, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced the first detections of the invasive spotted lanternfly found in Michigan. Fortunately, the specimens were dead and there is no evidence that the spotted lanternfly has become established in Michigan.

In at least one case, dead adult spotted lanternflies were noticed by a citizen at work, who then photographed and reported his discovery. When regulatory officials followed up on the report, they found the insects had hitchhiked on materials shipped into Michigan. This situation highlights the importance of public awareness and vigilance. Knowing what to look for and where to report a suspect detection is a key element of managing new invasive pests. Detecting spotted lanternfly before it becomes established and widespread provides critical time for implementing actions to minimize its effects in Michigan.

Spotted lanternfly, a native of China, was first found in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania. To date, infestations have been confirmed in eight other eastern states. If established in Michigan, this sap-feeding insect could significantly affect agriculture and natural resources in Michigan. Immature stages and adults feed on woody shoots, branches and the trunk of many hardwood trees. The non-native Tree of Heaven is a favorite host, but spotted lanternflies also feed on fruit trees, as well as black walnut, maples, black cherry and other hardwoods. Woody vines, including grapevines and hops, can be severely damaged or killed.

All people in Michigan can help with preparing for this invasive pest by knowing what to look for. See the Michigan State University Spotted Lanternfly website for more information and resources, and to download or read our free PDF, which shows the different life stages.

Spotted lanternfly adults are an inch long. While their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots, the open wings reveal bright red hind wings with black spots and their yellow and black abdomen. Egg masses resemble old putty or gum and can be found on many hard surfaces including tree trunks, fence posts, stone, trucks, camping gear, etc. This means there is a high risk that egg masses could be accidentally transported and lead to an infestation in a new area.

If you suspect you have found a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, take photos and record the location. Send the images and details of the location, time and date of the sighting to MDA-Info@Michigan.gov or call the MDARD Customer Service Center at 800-292-3939. You can also send specimens or photos to MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics: pestid@msu.edu. Sightings can also be reported through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.

MSU Extension has established a central website for information on this pest at canr.msu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.

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