Spotted Lanternfly – Getting Too Close for Comfort!

SpottedLanternFly
Photo from the Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Lately, you might have heard a lot about a certain invasive pest in the news – the Spotted Lanternfly. This objectively beautiful but damaging species is a pest of certain trees, grape vines, and other horticultural crops.

Spotted in North America as early as 2012, specimens of the invasive spotted lanternfly have now been detected in Michigan, New York and Quebec. Do Ontario ornamental crop growers need to be worried? Keep reading to find out!*

(*This post was was originally posted on the ONFruit blog and was amended by S. Jandricic for relevance to the ornamental industry).

What is a Spotted Lanternfly?

Spotted lanternfly fourth (final) instar nymph (immature). Note the color change to red and black with white spots. Photo courtesy of Gregory Hoover.
Spotted Lanternfly nymph (immature stage).

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant hopper, originally from Asia. They feed on the sap of plants. As with any sap-sucking pest (like aphids and whitefly), their feeding can causing wilting and dieback of plants when present in high numbers. Like aphids and whitefly, they also produce copious amounts of honeydew, resulting in the growth of sooty molds.

Crops at Risk

There are over 70 documented hosts in North America. The main hosts include grapevines, fruit trees (apple, peach, plum, cherry), hops and hardwoods (black walnut, maple).

However, certain ornamental tree and vine species can also be hosts, including Japanese maple, lilac, and virginia creeper. The biggest red flag for the ornamental industry on this list of susceptible host plants is certainly roses, including Beach and Japanese rose shrubs. Thankfully, other common ornamentals grown by the greenhouse floriculture industry (including perennials and outdoor cut flowers), do not appear to be hosts.

Spotted lanternfly swarm on grapevine
Swarm of spotted lanternfly on grapevines. (Credit: Erica Smyers, Penn State University).

Reports of economic injury in Pennsylvania, where this pest has established, have occurred in commercial vineyards, where swarm feeding has resulted in yield loss, decreased sugar content in harvested grapes, and weakening and death of vines. For trees, heavy feeding from spotted lanternfly feeding doesn’t usually kill the tree but is a stressor and some dieback can occur.

Early Detection is Critical

With ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as roses, on it’s list of potential targets, it essential that ALL agricultural operations keep their eye out for this pest, ESPECIALLY when receiving shipments from areas where Spotted Lanternfly has been spotted or is established (see Distribution, below).

Although established populations have NOT been found in Canada (yet), it’s moving closer and closer to our Ontario border with recent detections in New York and Michigan.

Early detection of any spotted lanternfly sightings is CRUCIAL so we can act quickly and limit its spread. Report any suspected finds immediately to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) online or by calling 1-800-442-2342.

Distribution

Native to Asia, spotted lanternfly was identified in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite containment efforts, this pest has spread further and established populations are now found in various regions across the United States.

Map of spotted lanternfly reports in northeastern regions of United States show infestation present in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersery and Connecticut. Individual finds also reported in New York, Maine and North Carolina.
Map of spotted lanternfly reports in the northeastern regions of the United States, as of October 29, 2020. (Source: New York State Integrated Pest Management, Cornell University).

In September 2020, the CFIA confirmed the identification of two dead spotted lanternflies on commercial trucks travelling from Pennsylvania to Quebec, illustrating the pests’ capacity for being spread quickly over large geographic areas by human activities.

Be Prepared

The spotted lanternfly is an excellent hitchhiker. Adults can cling to cars and trucks moving at high speeds for long distances. Females indiscriminately lay eggs on any smooth surface (vehicles, stones, lawn furniture, etc.); egg masses are difficult to detect, can be moved over great distances, and represent the life stage adapted to overwintering. 

Sticky tree band is wrapped around large tree trunk at eye level of adult.
OMAFRA staff putting up a sticky tree band to monitor for spotted lanternfly in 2018.

With so many different pathways and potential points of entry, monitoring presents a big challenge. In 2016 and 2018, OMAFRA monitored high risk areas using sticky tree bands. No spotted lanternfly was detected, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Ontario is a big province!  

In 2019, a Canadian Spotted Lanternfly Education and Outreach Committee was formed. Members include the Invasive Species Centre, CFIA, OMAFRA, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, industry representatives and city foresters.

Currently, the best plan of attack for Ontario is to have as many trained eyes as possible on the look-out for this unique-looking invasive insect.

Know What to Look For

In the mid-Atlantic states, overwintering egg masses are laid through the fall. The egg masses usually have about 30 to 50 eggs and are laid in parallel lines.

Spotted lanternfly egg masses: (a) Fresh egg masses have a waxy coating. (b) In older egg masses, the waxy coating starts to crack. (c) Eventually, the waxy coating begins to come off. In this picture, some eggs have hatched.
(Credits: (a) Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org), (b) & (c) Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org)

Nymphs begin to appear in the late spring.  They feed and move almost constantly. Keep a close eye on grapes, tree-of-heaven, black walnut, butternut, willow, birch, sumac and roses around your property as nymphs seem to prefer these hosts. Late instar nymphs tend to cluster together on preferred hosts, such as tree-of-heaven and black walnut.

Spotted lanternfly nymphs: (a) Early instar nymphs are black with white spots. (b) Late instar nymphs are red and black with white spots.
(Credits: (a) Emelie Swack
hamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, (b) Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

Adults appear mid-July and are active until they are killed by cold temperatures.  In vineyards, adults tend to show up along borders first. There are reports that spotted lanternfly adults are poor flyers; however, they can travel a long distance with the right conditions.

Spotted lanternfly adult: (a) Front wings are pale with black spots at the front and dark net-like bands at the tips. (b) Rear wings have bands of red, black and white. (Credits: (a) Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, (b) Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

There is one generation of spotted lanternfly per year. Recent observations show that spotted lanternfly does not require tree-of-heaven to survive, but comprehensive information on host use requires additional research.

Life cycle of spotted lanternfly: egg masses are present September until the following May, early nymph activity begins April until July, late nymph activity begins July until September, adult activity begins July until October.
Lifecycle of spotted lanternfly. Timing of each life stage is based on information from Pennsylvania, US.
(Credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Management in the United States

In the US, research is being conducted to develop better tools for monitoring and management. You will find the latest information on Penn State Extension’s spotted lanternfly website.

Current management in the US includes:

  • Remove and destroy egg masses –Scrape off into a container and place in alcohol (hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, other). Check vehicles, farm equipment and other hard surfaced items thoroughly for egg masses if coming from infested areas.
  • Remove tree-of heaven – May help reduce numbers but may not be practical if present in large numbers. Herbicides can be applied to control suckers. Since other hosts may prove suitable to complete development, attempts at eradicating tree-of-heaven as a management strategy may prove ineffective. 
  • Use sticky tree bands – Helps reduce numbers of nymphs. To avoid catching non-target organisms, use large-gauge mesh over the band, or alternatively, inward-facing sticky bands to intercept nymphs as they climb up host trees. Research to develop better traps is ongoing.
  • Encourage natural enemies – This includes spiders, assassin bugs, praying mantis and others that prey on spotted lanternfly. Relying on natural enemies alone may not be enough to control a high population. Parasitic wasps have been identified in China but require evaluation for non-target effects. 
  • Use insect-pathogenic fungi – Fungal pathogens, such as Beauveria bassiana, are being evaluated. The entomopathogenic fungus Baktoa major has been found in association with SLF in Pennsylvania and appears to be highly virulent against the pest.
  • Apply insecticides – Products containing bifenthrin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, carbaryl, fenpropathrin, malathion or zeta-cypermethrin provide effective control of nymphs and adults. Chlorpyrifos is the only active ingredient that gave high mortality of eggs. Mineral oil has shown egg mortality of up to 71%. For landscape trees, they have used tree injections, trunk sprays or soil drenches with certain neonicotinoid insecticides with excellent results. 

Where We Go From Here

Although Spotted Lanterfly hasn’t shown up in Ontario yet, OMAFRA is already taking steps besides monitoring. As we do not have any registered uses for the control of spotted lanternfly in Canada, this pest has been prioritized through the Minor Use Program for high-risk crops.

Although this pest may seem concerning to many – remember – we’ve been through this before (I’m looking at YOU, Japanese beetle!). As with JB, different agencies within Canada will work together with growers and industry groups to develop action plans to both protect Canadian crops and maintain market access, should this pest make it to Ontario.

Preventing Issues in Your Spring Crops: Sanitation, Dips and Bio Tips.

P1010595With the holiday season almost upon us, it’s time to turn our attention to Spring bedding crops. Although here for a brief window, the diversity of these crops means you’re bound to encounter some sort of disease and insect problems.

One way you can head off issues is to plan and prepare now.  This post from January 2020 has important tips on sanitation for common spring crop diseases, dips and early sprays to prevent key pests, as well as tips on where to spend your biocontrol dollars.

Continue reading “Preventing Issues in Your Spring Crops: Sanitation, Dips and Bio Tips.”

Poinsettia Problems: Your Monthly Scouting Guide

JF14

This post on poinsettia problems was contributed to by Drs. Chevonne Dayboll and Sarah Jandricic.

When poinsettias get problems,  they always seem to hit hard and fast. Things like whitefly, Lewis mite, root rots, and nutritional issues can all quickly derail a quality crop. This is why scouting might be more important in this crop than any other.

Here’s a month by month guide on what you should be looking for to prevent small problems from becoming big issues.

Continue reading “Poinsettia Problems: Your Monthly Scouting Guide”

Dipping Poinsettia Cuttings to Reduce Whitefly 101: 2020 Edition

 

dipping cuttings

Dipping poinsettia cuttings to help lower Bemisia numbers was investigated and perfected by the Biocontrol Lab at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario.

Although we’ve been talking for years here in Canada about dipping your poinsettia cuttings in low-risk pesticides, some growers have yet to take the plunge.

This preventive technique improves efficacy of BOTH biocontrol and pesticide programs for Bemisia, since it lowers your starting pest pressure.

If you’re still unsure of how or when to apply cutting dips, check out the rest of this post.  

 

Continue reading “Dipping Poinsettia Cuttings to Reduce Whitefly 101: 2020 Edition”

Garden Mums – 2020 Production and Protection Tips

praying mantis on garden mumsThis post was contributed to by Drs. Sarah Jandricic and Chevonne Dayboll.

Summer is in full swing, and so too are garden mums!  Although generally an easy crop, there several tweaks you can make to help save headaches AND money.

This post has information to help you optimize your irrigation, fertilizer and pest management programs in garden mums.

Continue reading “Garden Mums – 2020 Production and Protection Tips”

New Chemical Control Option for Thrips and Whitefly

Thrips-tabaci-female-1-1024x683A new pesticide is available  for greenhouse ornamental production in Canada that has shown potential for effective suppression of difficult-to-control thrips and whitefly species.

But to keep this new tool effective, growers will have to use this chemical wisely. Keep reading for  efficacy data on ornamental crops and best management practices for incorporating this chemical into your IPM toolbox.

Continue reading “New Chemical Control Option for Thrips and Whitefly”

Updates 2020: Japanese Beetle Control

japanese beetle_daveIt will soon be that time of year again, when Japanese beetle adults begin to fly. However, the cooler spring means pupation may take longer. So what does that mean for timing of control products?

This post answers those questions and provides updated infographics for JB control for those exporting to non-JB areas.

Continue reading “Updates 2020: Japanese Beetle Control”

Preventing Issues in Your Spring Crops: Sanitation, Dips and Bio Tips.

P1010595With the holiday season over, it’s time to turn our attention to Spring bedding crops. Although here for a brief window, the diversity of these crops means you’re bound to encounter some sort of disease and insect problems.

One way you can head off issues is to plan and prepare now.  This post has important tips on sanitation for common spring crop diseases, dips and early sprays to prevent key pests, as well as tips on where to spend your biocontrol dollars.

Continue reading “Preventing Issues in Your Spring Crops: Sanitation, Dips and Bio Tips.”

The Rugose Virus Threat – Will it Affect Your Spring Crops?

Tomatoes infected with the Rugose virus. Photo courtesy of HortiDaily.

By now,  you may of heard of the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV), referred to more simply as “Rugose”. It is a viral disease that predominately impacts tomato plants, but also peppers, leaving fruit damaged and unmarketable.

 

It was first detected in Israel in 2014 but has now been found in parts of North America.

If you are a Canadian ornamental grower that ALSO grows tomato liners as part of your spring crop selection, or if you grow ORNAMENTAL PEPPERS, here is what you need to know regarding Rugose symptoms, prevention and more importantly, regulations.

Continue reading “The Rugose Virus Threat – Will it Affect Your Spring Crops?”

99 Poinsettia Problems: Your Monthly Scouting Guide

JF14

This post on poinsettia problems was contributed to by Drs. Chevonne Dayboll and Sarah Jandricic.

Okay, so Poinsettia don’t really get that many problems.  But when issues arise, they can hit a crop fast and hard.  Whitefly, Lewis mite, root rots, and nutritional issues can all quickly derail a quality crop.

Here’s a month by month guide on what you should be looking for to prevent small problems from becoming big issues.

 

 

Continue reading “99 Poinsettia Problems: Your Monthly Scouting Guide”