Back to top

Spotted Lanternfly, an Invasive Pest Threatening Grapes and Other Crops, Found in Ithaca, NY

Spotted Lanternfly adult, side view, sitting on a branch.
Spotted lanternfly adult. Photo by NYSIPM staff.

A population of spotted lanternfly (SLF) has been found in Ithaca, New York, just off the Cornell University campus.

They were found on their favorite host plant, another invasive species, tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima). However, SLF also feeds on many other trees and plants, which, unfortunately, includes grapevines. With New York State’s important Finger Lakes grape-growing region and wine industries so close to Ithaca, state agencies and pest-control experts are particularly concerned about this pest’s impact in the region.

SLF is not a fly, but rather a large planthopper. Adults are about an inch long. SLF does not bite or sting and is not a threat to people, pets, or livestock. For most New Yorkers, it will be no more than a nuisance pest. Nymphal and adult SLF have piercing-sucking mouthparts that drill into plant phloem. SLF’s excrement—a sappy liquid called honeydew—makes things sticky and becomes a breeding ground for sooty mold, an annoying black fungal growth.

While SLF is native to Asia, it was first found in the U.S. in Pennsylvania. As the pest has begun to spread to neighboring states, knowledge and experience from Pennsylvania’s SLF researchers and specialists has been benefiting New York. Pennsylvania agriculture experienced losses of entire grapevine plants in some vineyards, and their economists estimate a potential combined annual loss to their state of $324 million and 1,665 jobs. Because SLF is a significant agricultural pest, research is underway even now, as Cornell investigates biological control and other management options.

The New York State IPM Program (NYSIPM) and the Northeastern IPM Center, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets and Department of Environmental Conservation, have been preparing for SLF’s potential arrival here for the last few years. In that time, we’ve developed educational resources to help recognize this insect and prevent its spread. Partnering with affected states, we’ve maintained a map tracking its spread and quarantines across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region.

To properly identify spotted lanternfly and understand its life cycle, its host plants, and how to monitor and manage it, visit:

“What Should I Do?”

If you think you see a spotted lanternfly, report it to New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, using the Spotted Lanternfly Public Report.

Check out the SLF life cycle, below, so you’ll know what to look for. From fall through spring, look for egg masses. Some resources on egg masses: What Should You Do with Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses? and How to Remove Spotted Lanternfly Eggs. In late spring and early summer, look for the nymph stages. In late summer through fall, look for adults.

Life stages of the spotted lanternfly: an egg mass on a tree, a black and white early instar nymph, a black, red and white late instar nymph, a side view of an adult, and a dorsal view of an adult with the wings spread, showing the red inner wing.
Life stages of spotted lanternfly: egg masses, early nymph, late nymph, and adults

Don’t transport this pest.

Individual and commercial travelers alike should be aware that there’s significant potential to unknowingly spread this insect to new areas. Adult SLF can end up in vehicles. Egg masses can be laid on virtually anything and can be easily overlooked. Inspect anything that you load into your vehicle. Consult the NYSIPM checklist.