The latest pest infestation is strikingly beautiful. The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, or SLF for short) is an invasive insect from Asia that has recently arrived in our area. It was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, although it is thought to have arrived there before that.
“The arrival of this new pest could have a significant impact on Maryland and U.S. agriculture,” states a flyer from the Maryland Department of Agriculture (read it here). Eggs — laid in late September until frost — hatch from late April to early May into tiny white-spotted angular black nymphs. Young nymphs begin feeding by sucking the juice from host plants. They have been found feeding on apples, apricots, blueberries, cherries, grapes, hops, nectarines, peaches, oak, pine, and poplar, among many others.
Adults prefer — and may need — to feed on tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), another invasive species.
Damage from SLF feeding can cause stunted growth, reduced yields, and the death of the host plant. As the insects feed, they excrete a sugary honeydew that collects and can attract other insects, as well as supporting growth of black sooty mold fungus that blocks sunlight from the leaves. If you see a suspect insect, contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture at DontBug.MD@maryland.gov. ■
© 2021 NFCCA [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn202110m.html]