Spotlight on the Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly has joined the increasingly long list of invasive species that have become established in the U.S. First detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, the known infested area includes several counties in the southeastern corner of that state (map).  This sap-feeding insect can feed on many species of fruit, ornamental, and woody trees; tree-of-heaven is one of its preferred hosts. This insect can be spread easily on infested plant material or items containing egg masses.

Signs and symptoms

  • Infested plants may ooze or weep and have an infested odor
  • Honeydew excreted by the insect accumulates on infested plants and on the ground beneath them
  • Sooty mold grows on the deposited honeydew

Figure 1. First instar nymphs of the spotted lanternfly (Photo: itchydogimages)

Figure 2. A 4th-instar nymph (Photo: itchydogimages)

Figure 3. Adult spotted lanternfly (about 1 inch long) with egg mass. The gray front wing has black spots. (Photo: Penn State News)

What to do if your suspect you have found this insect

The spotted lanternfly is not known to occur in Kentucky but is easily transportable. Collect suspected specimens of the insect and

  • Take the specimens to a local Cooperative Extension Service office or
  • Send them to the Office of the State Entomologist, Department of Entomology, S-225 Agricultural Science Center – North, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0091 (phone: 859-257-5838) and/or
  • Send a picture to the Office of the State Entomologist at


By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist



Posted in Landscape Trees & Shrubs