Agriculture officials warn invasive spotted lanternfly could damage 70 crops and plants

Adult spotted lanternflies are identifiable by their bright body and wing colors. (Photo...
Adult spotted lanternflies are identifiable by their bright body and wing colors. (Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, (WJRT)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 12:35 PM EDT
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(6/24/2020) - Michigan agriculture officials are asking the public to watch out for a new invasive insect making its way toward the state: The spotted lanternfly.

The flying insect could kill more than 70 Michigan crops and plants, including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees.

The spotted lanternfly was first spotted in southeast Pennsylvania in 2014 and has spread to Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia. None have been found in Michigan.

“Spotted lanternfly could negatively impact our grape industry,” said Robert Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Devleopment. “But it also has the potential to damage stone fruits, apples and other crops in Michigan’s fruit belt as well as important timber species statewide.”

Spotted lanternfly egg masses look like a gray, waxy, putty-like coating. Hatched eggs appear as brownish, seed-like deposits.

Juvenile spotted lanternflies look like wingless beetles with white spots and they develop red patches as they mature. Adults are about an inch long with gray or brown folded wings that have block spots.

When their wings are extended, lanternflies have a black abdomen and bright red back wings with black and white bands on the edge.

“Prevention and early detection are vital to limiting the spread of spotted lanternfly,” said Miller. “Spotted lanternfly cannot fly long distances, but they lay eggs on nearly any surface, including cars, trailers, firewood and outdoor furniture."

Anyone traveling to areas where spotted lanternflies have been located is asked to check their vehicles for any egg masses insects.

Anyone who believes they see a spotted lanternfly in Michigan should take a photo, note the time and location and make a report with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at or 1-800-292-3939.