You may have heard of Spotted Lanternfly. You may have visited a state like Pennsylvania and seen it. You may have read that Spotted Lanternfly (aka SLF) has been found it parts of Ohio. But sad to say, “Spotted Lanternfly has been discovered in Erie County!”
On Tuesday, August 22nd, and Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023, employees from The Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry conducted a delineation survey of Erie County Ohio to determine the extent of infestation.
In early August, Thomas deHaas, Agriculture and Natural Resource Education for Erie County Extension of The Ohio State University, placed a Spotted Lanternfly trap on a Tree of Heaven located within the vicinity of Columbus Avenue and the Norfolk and Southern railroad tracks. After several day, he inspected the trap which had captured Spotted Lanternfly 4th instar nymphs as well as adult Spotted Lanternfly, also known as SLF.
So, what is Spotted Lanternfly? Abbreviated SLF, Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive treehopper that arrived from Asia to an area around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2012.
Since then, it has spread to neighboring states. SLF is not a great flyer but an excellent hitchhiker. It is found feeding on another invasive, a tree from Asia, Tree of Heaven which can be found in disturbed areas and along railroad tracks.
Since Tree of Heaven produces so many seeds, it can produce many new sprouts.
That's why Tree of Heaven is invasive and it is easy to locate this time of year.
Infestation spread seems to follow rail lines and highways.
The delineation survey conducted last week revealed infestations along the Norfolk and Southern tracks from Vermilion all the way through Sandusky to western Erie county line at Sandusky Bay.
The first question people ask is “Do they bite?” the answer is absolutely not. They only feed on the sap of trees and shrubs and will not hurt people.
The downside is they feed on up to 70 different host plants. The major concern is their second favorite host is grape vines followed by fruit trees, which is bad news for local vineyards and orchards. there favorite is Tree of Heaven.
For the local homeowner, the biggest concern is because they feed on sap, they produce honeydew, a sticky substance that they excrete. This can fall on lower leaves of plants and produce sooty mold, a black substance, that attracts ants and bees and make surfaces like decks appear dirty and slippery. It can also fall on cars. Soap and water and a little elbow grease will wash away honeydew but as insects feed, it will return.
So don’t be alarmed if you see Spotted Lanternfly. People living along the railroad tracks will probably be the first to see the bug. In future years, it will probably spread away from the tracks. Vineyards and fruit growers are keeping a keen eye to be on the lookout for Spotted Lanternfly. At this point, none have reported SLF, but it is just a matter of time.
If you spot Spotted Lanternfly, you can take a picture of the bug and send a report to the Ohio Department of Agriculture by searching for Spotted Lanternfly ODA and Launching the Ohio Plant Pest Reporter or at the following site:
In the meantime, keep your eyes open for Spotted Lanternfly. And don’t be alarmed, they will not hurt you!