Monday, October 11, 2021

Tree-of-heaven reports safeguard state from another invasive pest

Cassie Cichorz
Pest Program Outreach Coordinator

Adult spotted lanternfly
Photo credit: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture
The 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.

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.

Display showing various
life stages of spotted lanternfly
Most 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.

Adult ID

  • 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 or calling (800) 443-6684. You can also report known tree-of-heaven locations by visiting the Washington Invasive Species Council’s website