Lanternflies Have Arrived in NC! Not Good News!!

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My mother told me that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything. Therefore, I’m just going to write this article, and you will have to read it on your own. There is nothing good to say at this point.

The spotted lanternfly was found and identified officially in June 2022 in Forsyth County, NC! A whole established colony of them. That is not good news for any of us. (This is when you should stop reading, gasp, and ask… what does that mean to me???)

That means that these invaders, originally from China, are getting much closer to paradise (Lincoln County) with their nasty habits. These pests will practically cover the trunk and branches of a tree (see photo), and suck sap from the plant. Then, after using very little of the sugary liquid they take from the tree for energy, they squirt the remainder out of their bodies where it falls to the ground like a light rain! It is pretty disgusting if you think about it, and so if you ever visit one of our already infested sister states like Pennsylvania on a clear day, and you feel it raining on you under a tree on a clear day…DON’T THINK ABOUT IT!

The Spotted Lantern Fly first showed up in Pennsylvania in 2014, and then in 9 more states by the time 2021 ended. It is a problem for production agricultural and for ornamental woody plants in landscapes. They are particularly rough on grapevines. They are also bad news for many common fruit trees.

Trees tend to survive attacks, BUT, they are weakened by the loss of nutrients, reduction of photosynthesis, and robbing the plant of the energy stored through photosynthesis. This can cause them to decline, and even fail with time.

Another issue that arises with an invasion of the spotted lanternfly, is the growth of sooty mold on the plant. Sooty mold is a fungus that grows on honeydew (the sticky, clear liquid expelled by the lanternflies). Too much sooty mold makes for an ugly black-looking plant, and can actually black out enough of the sun from leaves to reduce the all-important photosynthesis.

If you think you have found these insects, I suggest that you go straight to the NC Department of Agriculture with a report. The NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services is ready to counter attack if a population is found. Reports should be sent to badbug@ncagr.gov. We can help you confirm that they are lanternflies, but the NCDA does the eradication! (For more information. )  Adult Lantern fly on a tree with wings folded. It is a grey and light brown bug with long thin legs and spotted wings that become striated towards the ends.

Let’s all be alert, and on guard!