It’s that time of year when we remind everyone to watch for spotted lanternfly (SLF) infestations. Spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, and has since spread throughout the eastern USA. Its preferred host is the invasive Tree-of-Heaven, but it also feeds on a wide range of important plant species, including grapes, walnuts, maples, and willows.
There are two known populations of SLF in Indiana. The first population was found in 2021 in Switzerland County, and the second population was found in Huntington County in 2022. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology, has launched a delimiting survey throughout the two counties to delimit its range and monitor for activity.
Egg hatch was confirmed in Huntington County and Switzerland County in mid-May at the two known sites. A few adults have been caught about one mile south of the core infestation site in Huntington; however, there are not any new infestations reported as of July 2023. IDNR employees have completed several egg scraping events at the infestation sites, removing over 16,800 egg masses so far this year. That’s over 672,000 eggs!
Finding this invasive insect early is crucial to preventing its spread as long as possible. Currently, SLF nymphs are in their 1st-3rd instar, so watch for small, black, white-spotted bugs on Tree-of-Heaven. Later instars are black and red with white spots. The adults are about 1 inch long, with very brightly colored wings. The forewings are light brown with black spots, and the underwings are a striking red and black, with white band in between the red and black. When at rest, the adult SLFs appear light pinkish-grey.
Report any suspect findings at https://ag.purdue.edu/reportinvasive/