Michiganders Asked To Be On Lookout For This Destructive, Invasive Fly [PHOTOS]

WWJ News
June 23, 2020 - 11:46 am
spotted lanternfly

Adult spotted lanternflies are identifiable by their bright body and wing colors. )Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org).

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(WWJ) Have you seen this bug? If so, state officials want to hear about it. 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is asking the public to be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly — an invasive species with the potential to seriously affect Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources.

The MDARD says this insect could damage or kill more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees in Michigan.

“Spotted lanternfly could negatively impact our grape industry,” said Robert Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist for MDARD. "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.”

First found in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, the spotted lanternfly has been spreading rapidly across the nation. Infestations have been confirmed in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia.

Spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold can kill plants and foul surfaces — often attracting other pests; particularly hornets, wasps and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and complicating crop harvests.

While officials say the spotted lanternfly has not been detected in Michigan, they want to be proactive.

The MDARD on Tuesday released photos of the flies and their eggs, to help Michiganders identify them if, or when they do arrive. 

spotted lanterfly photos
Left: Adult spotted lanterfly. Photo courtesy of Robert Gardner, Bugwood.org. Right: Spotted lanterfly egg masses. Photo courtesy of Emilie Swackhammer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org.

“Prevention and early detection are vital to limiting the spread of spotted lanternfly," Miller said. "Spotted lanternfly cannot fly long distances, but they lay eggs on nearly any surface, including cars, trailers, firewood and outdoor furniture. Before leaving an area where a quarantine is present, check vehicles, firewood and outdoor equipment for unwanted hitchhikers.”

Here are some identifiers to keep in mind:

  • Spotted lanternfly egg masses resemble old chewing gum, with a gray, waxy, putty-like coating.
  • Hatched eggs appear as brownish, seed-like deposits.
  • Spotted lanternfly nymphs are wingless, beetle-like and black with white spots, developing red patches as they mature.
  • Adults are roughly 1 inch long. Their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots.
  • Open wings reveal a yellow and black abdomen and bright red hind wings with black spots transitioning to black and white bands at the edge.

spotted lanterfly life cycle
Photo: Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences.

If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, you are asked to take photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting, and report it to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development by email to MDA-Info@Michigan.gov. Or, call the MDARD Customer Service Center at 800-292-3939. If possible, Michianders are also asked to collect a specimen in a container for verification.

For more information on identifying or reporting spotted lanternfly, visit Michigan.gov/SpottedLanternfly.