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On February 28, 2019, the Delaware Department of Agriculture signed Emergency Regulations for Spotted Lanternfly that has enacted a quarantine for this pest. Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicata, is a threat to Delaware and the United States. This insect is a destructive, invasive plant hopper that attacks many hosts including forests, ornamental trees, orchards, hops, and grapes. This insect is detrimental to Delaware’s agricultural industries, the environment, residential areas and has an impact on interstate commerce.
The quarantine is in place to prevent the movement of spotted lanternfly in Delaware and the surrounding states, and to eradicate and control the spotted lanternfly population currently present in the quarantined area. A quarantine over an area found to have spotted lanternfly means that any material or object that could harbor the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent the spread.Expanded Quarantine As of September 18, 2019, the spotted lanternfly quarantine has been expanded to include all portions of New Castle County north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
The quarantine can expand if there is reason to believe that the pest has moved to a non-quarantined area. Not sure if you are involved in the quarantine, check our Delaware Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Locator.
The spotted lanternfly lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. All other lifestages of this insect, from nymphs to adults, can fly, hop, or drop into a vehicle – meaning that this pest can easily be transported to new areas where it can develop an infestation. Primary tools to demonstrate the individuals, organizations, and businesses comply with the quarantine are described in the emergency rule for spotted lanternfly. Intentional movement of spotted lanternfly is expressly prohibited and could result in civil penalties.
The spotted lanternfly – a destructive, invasive plant hopper attacks many hosts including grapes, apples, stone fruits, walnut, willow, and tree of heaven – has been confirmed in northern New Castle County. In 2017, Delaware was the second state to have found the insect, which was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014.
The spotted lanternfly is a plant hopper native to China, India, and Vietnam, that belongs to the order Hemiptera, family Fulgoridae.
This insect is a threat to several important commercial crops including grapes, peaches, apples, hops, and timber. State plant health and forestry officials are providing advice to homeowners, businesses, and communities to help identify this pest. Early detection is vital for the protection of Delaware businesses and agriculture.
The spotted lanternfly adult is 1” long and 1/2” wide at rest. 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. Immature stages are small, round, and black with white spots, and develop red patches as they grow.
Officials believe the spotted lanternfly requires feeding on tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to reproduce, however, the insect can be found feeding on other plants and trees as well. Egg masses will be laid on the trunk, branches, and limbs of medium to large trees, often in the upper reaches of the canopy. In springtime, nymphs will hatch and move off the trees and search for new hosts, including several agricultural crops, including grapes, apples, and peaches.
Susceptible tree species – such as tree of heaven, walnut, and willow – might develop weeping wounds, leaving a greyish or black trail along the trunk. The spotted lanternfly feeds through the bark using a piercing-sucking mouthpart tapped into the plant like a straw. When it feeds, it excretes honeydew, or a sugary water on and around it’s feeding site. This encourages the growth of black sooty mold, which is not harmful to humans, but can damage plants and make outside recreation areas unusable. This sap will attract other insects to feed, notably wasps and ants.
Branch dieback, wilting and plant death is a common symptom of heavy spotted lanternfly feedings.
In late fall, adults will lay egg masses on host trees and nearby smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and structures. Newly laid egg masses have a grey mud-like covering. Egg masses that have not been covered all the way, are close to hatching, or have already hatched will have a segmented look.
The spotted lanternfly is a very distinct insect at both the nymph and adult phases. The egg masses can be hard to spot making it easy to transport them on vehicles and other outdoor items.
Based on the proximity to Pennsylvania and the ease in which the spotted lanternfly is able to “hitch-hike,” officials believe this could be how the insect was introduced to Delaware. Therefore, it is important for Delawareans and visitors to inspect their vehicles and anything they may be transporting, including trailers, stone, metal, or anything that has spent time outdoors and have an egg mass attached.
Remember, completing a Compliance Checklist and bringing it with you indicates that you inspected and know that no living life stage of spotted lanternfly is present on regulated articles you want to move.
If you find a spotted lanternfly, there are several ways you can help us stop the #HitchHikerBug:
Delaware has been working to monitor for spotted lanternfly infestations since Pennsylvania first detected the insect in 2014. Our Plant Industries inspectors have done visual surveys in areas with Tree of Heaven. With the expansion of Pennsylvania’s quarantine to county level and the proximity of these counties to New Castle County, our inspectors ramped up their inspections, detecting one dead spotted lanternfly in the Wilmington area in 2017.
In 2018, our Plant Industries inspectors along with USDA staff conducted surveys around the area where the initial detection was found. With the hatching of egg masses and adults present, the population in Delaware grew. Working with homeowners, businesses, and municipalities, treatment was conducted at various sites.
Along with conducting surveys, our Plant Industries inspectors, in conjunction with USDA contractors, have treated more than 19,000 trees in the initial quarantine zone, established in February 2019, encompassing 130 properties. This number continues to grow daily.
Officials want to eradicate this pest before it spreads, but as a notorious hitchhiker, vigilance is key. With a hard frost, the adults will die during the fall and winter months. The egg masses the females lay this fall will survive the winter and hatch out 30-50 nymphs come late April / early May. Locating and destroying any adult lanternflies now, and the egg masses created this fall, will reduce the population that hatches out in the spring. Any adults and/or egg masses outside of the quarantine area should be reported to the Department of Agriculture for verification and destruction.
If allowed to spread, this pest could seriously impact the grape, orchard, hardwood, and nursery and landscape industries. The insect can also cause damage to high-value ornamentals in home landscapes and can affect quality of life for residents. In addition, due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area.
Trees and plants that have been known to be affected are: