Invasive Species Connected To Tree Of Heaven
The spotted lanternfly is a planthopper native to Asia and feeds on the sap of over 70 plant species, including grape, apple, hops, oak, walnut, maple, and ornamental plants. Tree of Heaven, another invasive species in Missouri, is a favored host of spotted lanternfly.
This insect, which resembles a moth, is highly invasive to the United States and causing tremendous amounts of damage to crops, forests, and ornamental plants. While not yet present in Missouri, it is on the watch list and we should keep an eye for its presence. It can only walk, jump, or fly short distances, so it spreads by hitching rides to new areas via firewood, vehicles, and outdoor furniture.
It prefers to lay its eggs on smooth host plant surfaces and other materials, such as bricks, stones, outdoor furniture, and more. The eggs hatch in spring and early summer where the nymphs feed on the sap of stems and branches.
Nymphs are black with white spots but turn red before becoming an adult. Adults appear in late July and are an inch-long with light brown forewings with black spots and a speckled band at the rear. Its hindwings are red with black spots in the front and white with black bars in the back. The abdomen is yellow with black bars.
Signs Of Spotted Lanternfly
Signs of spotted lanternfly include:
- Presence of honeydew from feeding
- Declining plant health
- Sooty mold
- An increased presence of wasps and ants attracted to honeydew
- Presence of eggs
The eggs can be hard to spot, as they look like mud spots. If you see eggs, crush them with a rock, stick, or scraper card by applying firm pressure.
Controlling Spotted Lanternfly
You can prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly in Missouri by reporting sightings to the Missouri Department of Agriculture: Take a picture of the insect and eggs, collect it in a jar, smash the eggs, and email the photo and details, including the location where it was found, to [email protected].
If you have been in an area affected by spotted lanternflies, thoroughly clean your car and equipment, and burn firewood where you buy it. If your property also has tree of heaven, get it removed by a professional tree care service like Hansen’s.