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Lycorma delicatula

What do they look like?

Adult spotted lanternflies can be confused for moths. Females are 24-27 mm in length, while males are 21-22 mm. The heads and wings of spotted lanternflies are dark-brown to black in color. Members of this species have four wings. The front wings are greyish and have dark spots. Back wings are black-tipped, white in the center, and bright red near the body. Spotted lanternflies have a wide abdomen with yellow and black-brown stripes. The abdomen and back wings can only be seen when in flight. The abdomen of females is red at the end. (Dara, et al., 2015)

Nymphs have four stages of development. The first three stages have black bodies with white spots. Nymphs in the fourth and final stage have yellow-ish white spots and reddish body color. The nymphs get bigger with each stage. (Dara, et al., 2015)

Eggs masses are covered in a sticky, off-white or grey substance that turns a grey-ish brown color over time. These masses may be mistaken for spots of mud or seed pods from plants. (Johnson, et al., 2019)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • female more colorful
  • Range length
    21 to 27 mm
    0.83 to 1.06 in

Where do they live?

Spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) are a species of planthoppers native to China, Taiwan, India, and Vietnam. The species is invasive to Korea, Japan, and the United States. Spotted lanternflies appeared in Berks county, Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, it has appeared in localized areas of New York, Delaware, and Virginia. If seen, spotted lanternflies should be killed on sight and reported at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. (Dara, et al., 2015; Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Spotted lanternflies can be found on more than 70 species of plants, including fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, and vines. Trees of heaven are their preferred host plant. Spotted lanternflies are most commonly found on trees with smooth bark. (Dara, et al., 2015; Johnson, et al., 2019)

  • These animals are found in the following types of habitat
  • temperate

How do they grow?

Eggs are laid from August to early November and live through the winter. The survival of eggs depends on winter temperatures. The eggs hatch in May. Nymphs grow up in four stages followed by incomplete metamorphosis. This means that nymphs slowly change and become more like adults. Complete metamorphosis is what insects like butterflies go through, where larvae change into very different adults. Adults spotted lanternflies can be seen in July. (Dara, et al., 2015)

How do they reproduce?

No information about mating systems could be found.

Spotted lanternflies produce one batch of eggs each year through sexual reproduction. Eggs are laid in masses of 20-30 eggs each on trees with smooth bark, stones, fence posts, and machinery. In Korea, there are normally 3-4 egg masses on one tree. In Pennsylvania, there can be up to 197 egg masses on one tree. Eggs will wait out the winter after being laid. They will hatch in April or May. (Kim, et al., 2011)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Once yearly
  • Breeding season
    September-early December
  • Range eggs per season
    20 to 30

Spotted lanternflies do not help raise their young. (Dara, et al., 2015)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement

How long do they live?

Spotted lanternflies have a lifespan of one year. The survival of eggs depends on winter temperatures, with a hatch rate of 60-90%. (Dara, et al., 2015)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 years

How do they behave?

Spotted lanternflies are active during the day. They do not tend to fly away when approached. Adults are good jumpers and climbers. Nymphs are strong climbers and will attempt to climb up trees after they emerge. Physical barriers, strong winds, and rough bark can cause them to fall. If they fall, they will start climbing again. (Dara, et al., 2015; Kim, et al., 2011)

If the density of nymphs present on one host plant is too high, they may become aggressive with each other. In this scenario, when a nymph on a highly populated plant tries to eat near another nymph that was already there, they will fight. The nymph who was already there will raise its forelimbs as a challenge. The approaching nymph will either flee or attempt to mount the challenging nymph. If mounted, the challenging nymph will attempt to throw off the approaching nymph. The challenging nymph typically wins. (Dara, et al., 2015; Kim, et al., 2011)

If too many nymphs live on one plant, they may try to fight each other. This happens when a nymph on a highly crowded plant tries to eat near another nymph that was already there. The nymph who was already there will raise its forelimbs as a challenge. The invading nymph will run away or try to mount the challenging nymph. If the challenging nymph is mounted, it will try to throw off the invading nymph. The challenging nymph typically wins. (Dara, et al., 2015; Kim, et al., 2011)

How do they communicate with each other?

Not much information is known about the communication and perception of spotted lanternflies. They likely use tactile, visual, and chemical channels of perception. Tactile, visual, and chemical methods of communication are possible. (Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019; Kim, et al., 2011)

What do they eat?

Spotted lanternflies are known to feed upon the sap in the phloem of more than 70 species of plants, including apple trees, birch trees, cherry trees, grapevines, lilacs, maple trees, and poplar trees. Both nymphs and adults feed upon trees of heaven, an invasive plant species. The preferred hosts of spotted lanternflies may be chosen because of their toxic secondary metabolites. (Dara, et al., 2015; Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019; Johnson, et al., 2019)

When spotted lanternflies feed, they pierce the bark to create wounds on the plants. They also produce a sticky substance called honeydew. (Dara, et al., 2015; Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019)

  • Primary Diet
  • herbivore
    • eats sap or other plant foods
  • Plant Foods
  • sap or other plant fluids

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Through their preference for eating plants that produce cytotoxic byproducts, spotted lanternflies can be toxic when eaten. The greyish color of the forewings may be a camouflaging adaptation. Similarly, the bright red colored back wings may serve as a warning to predators. (Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019; Lee, et al., 2020)

Spotted lanternflies repel many generalist predators. They are not often preyed upon throughout their invasive range. In China, larvae are preyed upon by dryinid wasps and one species of parasitoid chalcid wasps. (Barringer and Smyers, 2016; Dara, et al., 2015)

  • Known Predators

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

In their invasive range, spotted lanternflies have no native predators. They repel predators that are willing to try to eat them with their terrible, toxic taste. Parasitoid wasps prey upon the larvae of spotted lanternflies. (Dara, et al., 2015; Lee, et al., 2020)

Spotted lanternflies feed on and damage fruit trees, woody trees, ornamental trees, and vines. They are known to prey upon more than 70 species of plants, including apple trees, birch trees, cherry trees, grapevines, lilacs, maple trees, and poplar trees. (Dara, et al., 2015; Lee, et al., 2020)

While feeding, spotted lanternflies produce a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew. Honeydew attracts pests like hornets, wasps, and ants. Black sooty mold grows on the sugary substance, reducing the rate of photosynthesis. Pests, pathogens from infect wounds, the presence of mold, and decreased photosynthesis can impact the health of the plant. (Johnson, et al., 2019)

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • dryinid wasps (Dryinus browni)
  • chalcid wasps (Anastatus orientalis)

Do they cause problems?

Spotted lanternflies are threats to grape and orchard industries. They damage the plants they feed on, even killing the plants in some cases. In the United States, spotted lanternflies disturb more than 40 types of agricultural crops and landscaping plants. If spotted in the United States, they should be killed on site. (Dara, et al., 2015; Lee, et al., 2020)

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest

Are they endangered?

Contributors

Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

References

Barringer, E., E. Smyers. 2016. Predation of the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) by two native Hemiptera. Entomological News, 126: 71-73.

Dara, S., L. Barringer, S. Arthurs. 2015. Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae): A New Invasive Pest in the United States. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 6(1): 20. Accessed June 09, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1093/jipm/pmv021.

Gillett-Kaufman, J., . Griffith. 2019. "Common Name: Spotted Lanternfly" (On-line). Featured Creatures Entomology & Nemotology. Accessed June 09, 2020 at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/ORN/TREES/spotted_lanternfly.html.

Johnson, A., D. McCullough, R. Isaacs. 2019. "Spotted lanternfly: A colorful cause for concern" (On-line). MSU Extension Invasive Species. Accessed June 09, 2020 at https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/spotted-lanternfly-a-colorful-cause-for-concern.

Kim, J., E. Lee, Y. Seo, N. Kin. 2011. Cyclic Behavior of Lycorma delicatula (Insecta: Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) on Host Plants. Journal of Insect Behavior, 24: 423. Accessed June 09, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10905-011-9266-8.

Lee, D., Y. Park, T. Leskey. 2020. A review of biology and management of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), an emerging global invasive species. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 22(2): 589-596. Accessed June 09, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aspen.2019.03.004.

 
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Hauze, D. 2020. "Lycorma delicatula" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 25, 2022 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Lycorma_delicatula/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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