The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, or MDARD, is asking Michiganders to be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect with the potential to affect Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources.
They say the spotted lanternfly could damage or kill more than 70 varieties of crops and plants, including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees. Currently, the insect has not been detected in the state.
MDARD says the spotted lanternfly was first detected in the United States in 2014 in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and has been spreading quickly across the Northeastern states.
According to MDARD, spotted lanternfly infestations have been confirmed in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
They say the spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking up sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. The honeydew and resulting black mold can kill plants and foul surfaces. Additionally, the honeydew attracts other insects such as yellow jackets, flies, and ants, which could affect outdoor recreation and crop harvests.
“Spotted lanternfly may be a colorful insect worthy of an Instagram post, but also is an invasive species with the potential to wreck havoc on trees, plants and other natural resources, resulting in millions of dollars of damages,” stated Robert Miller, Invasive Species Prevention and Response Specialist for MDARD. “In addition, it has the potential to impact grapes, stone fruits, apples and other crops in Michigan’s fruit belt as well as important timber species statewide.”
According to MDARD, from late summer to the first hard frost, spotted lanternflies are in their adult stage. They are about an inch long, their wings are folded and are gray to brown with black spots. The insects also have a yellow and black abdomen and bright red hind wings with black spots, transitioning to black and white bands at the edge.
They say adult spotted lanternflies are busy laying egg masses, which they say can resemble chewing gum with a gray, waxy coating. Egg masses can survive winter temperatures to hatch in the spring, and once they hatch, egg masses look like brownish, seed like deposits. Spotted lanternfly nymphs are wingless and are described to be black with white spots, developing red patches in their final nymph stages.
United States Department of Agriculture and MDARD confirmed dead spotted lanternfly adults found in packing materials at two locations in Michigan in November 2020.
If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, take one or more photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting and report it to MDARD.
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