Pest Program Outreach Coordinator
reports of tree-of-heaven are rolling in now that the Washington Invasive
Species Council has launched a month-long effort to identify where
this invasive tree is located. This is the first step in an effort to
proactively prepare for the arrival of another dread invasive species that
prefers tree-of-heaven: the spotted lanternfly.
Adult spotted lanternfly
Photo credit: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture
Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive piercing-sucking insect. It feeds on a wide variety of plants including apples, grapes, cherries, hops, plums, walnut and many more species.
Damage incurred by spotted lanternfly includes oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling, and tree dieback. SLF also secretes large amounts of honeydew (feces), which enables the growth of sooty mold on vegetation and fruit.
Currently, it has only become established the northeastern United States, although it has been found dead in Oregon as a hitchhiker on goods shipped from the northeast. More alarmingly, more than fifty spotted lanternflies have been found both alive and dead in California at state border agricultural inspection stations as well as on air cargo flights.
adults are bad fliers and will be found with their wings closed. Adults begin
to lay grey-brown egg clusters in September on tree bark and outdoor surfaces. They
will cover the egg masses with a wax coating that resembles mud. When
performing a survey for spotted lanternfly, check items in the area such as
outdoor furniture, stonework, firewood piles, and rusty items.
Display showing various
life stages of spotted lanternfly
- 1’’ long, ½’’ wide at rest
- Yellow abdomen with black bands
- Black head and legs
- Light gray forewings with black spots and a rear speckled band
- Scarlet hindwings with black spots and rear black and white bars
Spotted lanternfly is likely to infest tree-of-heaven if it arrives. Tree-of-heaven is rapid-growing and its bark is often compared to cantaloupe skin. Mapping known tree-of-heaven populations allows Washington to plan control efforts, keeping our state safe from this invasive pest.
Report spotted lanternfly sightings to the Washington State Department of Agriculture by e-mailing PestProgram@agr.wa.gov or calling (800) 443-6684. You can also report known tree-of-heaven locations by visiting the Washington Invasive Species Council’s website.