Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, an invasive planthopper native to China, India and Vietnam, is thought to have arrived as egg masses on a stone shipment in 2012. The first infestation was found in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 in a wooded area of Ailanthus altissima, or Tree of Heaven. Despite a quarantine of the townships involved, and efforts to eradicate this pest, spotted lanternfly has proved difficult to contain and now includes infestations in four states and sightings in four additional states. Nonetheless, quarantine efforts have been moderately effective in slowing its spread. In contrast, SLF was introduced to South Korea (approximately the size of Pennsylvania) in 2004, and because of their ability to hitchhike via transportation as well as the widespread availability one of its preferred hosts, Tree of Heaven, SLF quickly spread throughout the country in just three years.
In southeast PA, spotted lanternfly has proven to be a serious pest of grapes (both cultivated and wild). Besides agricultural crops like hops, apples, peaches and other tree fruits, they move into wooded and residential areas to feed on black walnut, maples, tulip poplar, and black cherry. And because of the copious amount of honeydew they produce, SLF has become a significant nuisance in residential areas.
Timeline of sightings, infestations, and quarantines:
- 2014: Initial infestation found in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014. Thought to have arrived on a stone shipment in 2012.
- 2017: A dead adult SLF became the first New York sighting in Delaware County.
- 2018: Spotted lanternfly adults or egg masses found in NY in Albany, Chemung, Kings (Brooklyn), Monroe, Suffolk, Westchester, and Yates Counties — all thought to be hitchhikers.