Spotted lanternfly (SLF)

SLF 1 - Adult spotted lanternfly (photo credit: Lawrence Barringer; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive insect from China that feeds on the sap of a wide variety of plants, including forest trees, such as black walnut, maple, birch, and willow, as well as important agricultural crops, such as grape, hops, apple, and cherry. To feed, this insect inserts its straw-like mouthpart through the plant’s bark, which creates wounds allowing plant diseases a point of entry. This feeding causes adults and immatures to produce large amounts of a sugary substance called honeydew which coats surfaces below them. Black sooty mold can grow on the honeydew, potentially affecting the plant’s appearance and health. Large numbers of SLF feeding can lead to plant stress, reduced health, and in some cases death.


Spotted lanternfly (SLF) eggs hatch in spring. The immature insects are black with white spots. After feeding all summer, they turn bright red with white and black markings. As adults, they are about an inch long and a half inch wide. Their forewings are grayish-brown with black spots; the hindwings are bright red with black spots and white and black bars. Adults and young feed on more than 70 species of trees, shrubs and vines, including grapevines, hops, fruit trees, maple trees, black walnut, and other hardwoods. Adults prefer Tree of Heaven (also an invasive species). This is a sap-sucking insect that feeds on plant sap by sucking it through their straw-like mouth parts. For more information visit the USDA APHIS spotted lanternfly website.

Where it’s from

SLF is native to China and other parts of southeast Asia. It was first detected in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. As of December 2021, infestations haves been confirmed in 11 other U.S. states.

How it spreads

Adult SLF can lay egg masses on almost any surface, including vehicles, trailers and trees, which means accidental human movement is a problem. Adults can also fly short distances. It is important to thoroughly examine vehicles and outdoor materials for egg masses when leaving an area where SLF has been reported.

Where it’s found

As of December 2021, SLF populations are in 11 states including: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

What’s being done

Several states in the eastern United States have enacted quarantines in counties with heavy SLF infestations, regulating the movement of materials or objects that can spread SLF. Other states without severe infestations, have restricted the movement of materials and objects coming from quarantined areas. Local, state and federal government are partnering to implement control or eradication programs in areas with, or near, known SLF infestations. Visual inspection or trapping methods can find new SLF infestations, which can be controlled by scraping egg masses off surfaces into an alcohol solution to kill them.

Control methods include removing or treating tree of heaven with insecticide within a quarter mile of an SLF detection, then chipping or grinding debris before burning. The USDA and several state universities and research institutions are studying SLF biology and behavior to develop more control methods.

Images of SLF and its damage

Early/young infestations or pests:

SLF 2 – Multiple spotted lanternfly egg masses on a tree (photo credit: Emelie Swackhamer; Penn State University)
SLF 3 – Multiple spotted lanternfly egg masses on a barrel (photo credit: Lawrence Barringer; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)
SLF 4 – Early stage, black and white spotted lanternfly immatures (photo credit: Lawrence Barringer; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Older SLF:

SLF 6 – Adult spotted lanternflies congregating on a tree trunk (photo credit: Richard Gardner;
SLF 7 – Adult spotted lanternfly with wings spread (photo credit: Lawrence Barringer; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Early damage:

SLF 8 – A small wound in a tree trunk caused by adult spotted lanternfly feeding (photo credit: Lawrence Barringer; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Later damage:

SLF 9 – Honeydew, excreted by feeding adults, covering the trunk of a tree and the area beneath it with black sooty mold growing in it (photo credit: Emelie Swackhamer; Penn State University)

Look alikes:

SLF 10 – Tiger moth (Arctia caja) is often misidentified as spotted lanternfly (photo credit: Elizabeth McCarty; University of Georgia)
SLF 11 – White-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) is often misidentified as spotted lanternfly (photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw; Colorado State University)
SLF 12 – Grapevine epimenis (Psychomorpha epimenis) is often misidentified as spotted lanternfly (photo credit: (no photographer listed); Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Forestry)
SLF 13 – Buck moth (Hemileuca maia) is often misidentified as spotted lanternfly (photo credit: Gerald J. Lenhard; Louisiana State University)
SLF 14 – Oak treehopper (Platycotis vittata) is often misidentified as spotted lanternfly (photo credit: Larry R. Barber; USDA Forest Service)
SLF 15 – Pink Underwing (Catocala concumbens) is often misidentified as spotted lanternfly (photo credit: Roxanne S. Bernard;

Is Spotted Lanternfly near me?

Check the USDA APHIS – "Where's the Threat and How to Report It" webpage

What can be done?


There are several management tactics individuals can use to manage SLF populations:

Homeowners can inspect their property for SLF egg masses and scrape them into a container with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer then dispose of the entire container.

Traps can also be set on trees with heavy infestations to target the immature insects that walk up the tree trunk after hatching. Effective traps are either a sticky band that wraps around the circumference of the trunk or a funnel-style trap that consists of mesh wrapped around the tree leading to a container. Traps should be checked and changed every other week, or more in highly infested areas.

Tree of Heaven, an invasive tree that is highly preferred by SLF, can be removed from private property.

Chemical control may also be used by homeowners. Tree injections are usually applied by professional applicators. Soil drenches, which are poured on the soil around the tree trunk, bark sprays, which are applied to the bark of the lower tree trunk, and direct sprays, which are applied directly to SLF and surfaces they walk and feed on, can all be applied by homeowners.

To stop the spread of SLF, thoroughly check vehicles and any outdoor materials and objects that are being moved for SLF egg masses when travelling from areas with established SLF infestations. SLF may also find its way into vehicles if windows are left open. Firewood should never be moved. More information from Penn State University here.


USDA APHIS – "Businesses Can Help Stop Spotted Lanternfly" webpage.

Regulatory information

USDA APHIS – "Pest Tracker" webpage gives information on quarantines for various pests in U.S. states

Who to contact

This Website provides reliable, objective and timely information from researchers, personnel affiliated with numerous universities, state and federal agencies, educators and outreach specialists in the USA and Canada. Information is reviewed and approved by the website content managers and researchers affiliated with the Michigan State University Dept. of Entomology, the Dept. of Forestry and MSU Extension. Our goal is to help you find answers to questions about EAB, either directly or through links we provide to many other EAB-related websites. Please check this site often because information changes frequently. Funding to support this website is provided by the USDA Forest Service.

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