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Spotted lanternfly, an invasive species, detected for first time in Michigan

Detection of the spotted lanternfly has the potential to have a negative impact on Michigan’s thriving grape industry
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Posted at 4:19 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 16:35:02-04

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has confirmed Michigan’s first detection of the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), an invasive species, found last week in Pontiac and confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Although not unexpected, this is certainly tough news to share due to its potential to for it to negatively impact Michigan’s grape industry,” said Gary McDowell, Director, MDARD.

“Spotted lanternfly has been moving closer to the state over the last few years. MDARD, along with our state, local and federal partners, has been working tirelessly to inform and educate growers and the public about this highly invasive insect.”

Native to eastern Asia, the spotted lanternfly was first detected in the U.S. in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania. It has since spread rapidly throughout many eastern states.

“MDARD and MDNR are working with the United States Department of Agriculture to define the extent of the infestation,” said Mike Philip, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director.

“Although we can’t pinpoint exactly how it got here, it likely hitchhiked on nursery stock brought in from an infested state and has possibly been here for several months. We are in the assessment stage of response, but it is important to note that typical pest management techniques have not proven effective for eliminating the pest in other states.”

The spotted lanternfly is able to navigate easily on items like firewood, tires, campers, vehicles and more. MDARD says, prevention and early detection are crucial to reducing the spread of spotted lanternfly.

The invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is the preferred food source of the spotted lanternfly, but they also enjoy consuming many plants including grapes and trees such as black walnut, river birch, willow, sumac, and red maple.

When the spotted lanternfly feeds, they produce a sticky liquid, honeydew that may be found on the ground or on surrounding vegetation resulting in the growth of mold, which may discolor and kill plants.

If you locate a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, MDARD and the Michigan DNR ask that you take multiple photos and include the date, time and location of the sighting and report the finding online to Eyes in the Field. Photos, MDARD says are required to accurately help with the identification of the species.

“The research community is still learning about the spotted lanternfly and its potential for impacting our natural resources as well as treatments to eliminate this pest,” said Joanne Foreman, invasive species communications coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “It also could have an effect on important timber species statewide. What the long-term impact might be is unknown.”

  • Check Your Vehicle: Before leaving a parking lot or work site, inspect vehicles for spotted lanternfly egg or insects. Check doors, sides, bumpers, wheel wells, grills, and roofs. If found, destroy any eggs or insects you find.
  • Park with Windows Closed: The spotted lanternfly and its nymphs can enter vehicles unsuspectedly. When parked, make sure to keep windows closed.
  • Remove and Destroy Pests: Crush nymphs and adult insects. Scrape egg masses into a plastic bag containing hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them.
  •  Remove Host Trees: Spotted lanternflies prefer the ailanthus tree, also known as “tree of heaven.” Try to remove trees from properties to avoid attracting spotted lanternfly.
  • Report Sightings: Send in required photos to Eyes in the Field. Photos are necessary to verify a report and to aid in identification.

For additional information on identifying or reporting spotted lanternfly, visit Michigan.gov/SpottedLanternfly. You can also learn more at USDA’s Spotted Lanternfly website found at USDA APHIS | Spotted Lanternfly.