Spotted Lanternfly Nymphs Emerge in Southern Ohio

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The Ohio Department of Agriculture has confirmed first emergence / egg hatch of Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) nymphs in Cincinnati today, April 24, 2024.  First instar nymphs were collected on young Trees of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), one of its preferred host plants.



documented nymph emerging in cincinatti



Spotted Lanternfly is a non-native, invasive planthopper that is now known to be in 12 Ohio counties (Belmont, Muskingum, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Columbiana, Mahoning, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Erie, Ottawa, and Lucas).  It feeds on the sap of various trees, vines and perennials such as fruit trees, hops, maple, willow, and walnut, but favors Tree of Heaven and wild and cultivated grape. Nymphs are strong jumpers and may be found on a wide range of plants around their hatch location.  



first instar nymphs lined up on a stem



SLF nymphs are black with white spots on the first through third instars. Right now, look for first instars which are approximately 1/4 inch long, and may be mistaken for ticks.  In their fourth and final instar, they will reach approximately 1/2 inch in length and will develop red aposematic coloration that is associated with the adult. 



SLF nymph compared to a penny



As the nymphs begin feeding now through spring, honeydew will be found on nearby plants and other surfaces that could attract other insects such as wasps and butterflies. This can aid in finding SLF infestations.



honeydew on leaves  


Old eggs will have a horizontal slit in the egg where nymphs have emerged. Egg masses may be fully covered by a waxy coating, partially covered or exposed and are laid on all manner of surfaces, high or low! 


old egg masses with emergence evidence

freshly laid egg masses covered in gray waxy coating


The growing degree-day (GDD) accumulation for April 24th, 2024 in the Cincinnati zipcode was 362 GDD according to the OSU phenology and GDD calendar.  This tracks right after estimated peak emergence for nymphs at 355 GDD.  If you are in an area where there is confirmed or suspected SLF egg masses, you can begin scouting for SLF emergence within the next week, depending on your location in Ohio. Egg hatch will continue as the weather warms up.  


Make sure to REPORT any spotted lanternfly infestations to the Ohio Department of Agriculture using their plant pest reporting tool found here. You can upload a photo of SLF specimens along with location details for them to investigate possible new infestation sites.


There are several previous SLF articles on the BYGL to read more, or you can check out the OSU Factsheet found here.