Spotted Lanternfly in Delaware

Recently, Delaware Nature Society hosted an info session with Stephen Hauss, Department of Agriculture Environmental Scientist, at Ashland Nature Center. This came after the insect was documented at Ashland by our Hawk Watch Coordinator. There have been other confirmed sightings of the insect in Northern Delaware as well. Delaware became the second state to report the Spotted Lanternfly, which was first found in Pennsylvania in 2014.

Spotted Lanternfly pumpkin carving by Christi Leeson, DelNature Web & Graphic Design Coordinator, at Gateway Garden Center’s Jack O’ Lantern Jamboree

What is the Spotted Lanternfly?

The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive and destructive insect native to China, India, and Vietnam. It is attacks grapes, apples, stone fruits, walnut, willow, and tree of heaven. It is also known as the hitch-hiker bug as it has traveled far and wide “hitch-hiking” on vehicles and other outdoor items.

Why is this a bad bug?

Delaware’s #1 industry is agriculture. This insect is a potential threat to a wide variety of crops including grapes, peaches, apples, and timber.

How to spot a Spotted Lanternfly

The adult is 1 inch long and a ½ inch wide when resting and has a wing span of about 2 inches. The forewings are grey with black spots, and the hind wings are red with black spots. The head and legs are black, and the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. The immature stages of the Spotted Lanternfly are small, round, and black with white spots, and develop red patches as they grow.

Spotted Lanternfly Adult
Spotted Lanternfly Adult


Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs
Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs

The egg mass can be difficult to spot due to its color and being small. A fresh mass will have a grey putty-like covering on top of them, blending in to the bark of the tree it’s on. An older mass that has hatched will be brown and look dried and cracked.

Lanternfly egg mass on a rock
Lanternfly egg mass on a rock

It is believed that the Spotted Lanternfly needs to feed on Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to reproduce but will feed on other hosts as well.

What to do

If you see this insect in any of its stages, it is important to report the sighting to Delaware Department of Agriculture . How to report a Spotted Lanternfly sighting.

Other things to know

The coloring of the Spotted Lanternfly indicates that it could be toxic to dogs. There have been reports of dogs becoming ill after eating them. Pet owners should be careful to keep animals from eating the insect in any stage of its life. Learn more about the Spotted Lanternfly.