DNR confirms invasive spotted lanternfly in Michigan; here's what you should do if you see one

WWJ News Radio
WWJ News Radio

OAKLAND COUNTY (WWJ) – State officials are concerned Michigan’s grape industry could be negatively impacted after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed the invasive spotted lanternfly in Oakland County last week.

Officials say the invasive species was detected in Pontiac last week and confirmed on Wednesday.

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper that’s native to eastern Asia. It was first found in the U.S. back in 2014 in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Officials say it has slowly been moving towards Michigan over the last few years. It has since been detected in 11 other states.

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

Officials with MDARD and Michigan DNR say they’re not sure yet of the extent of the spotted lanternfly infestation.

“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,” said Mike Philip, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director.
A collage of life stages of spotted lanternfly including nymphs, resembling beetles, and adult leaf hoppers. Photo credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Officials say the lanternfly moves easily on firewood, tires, campers, vehicles and more. That’s why prevention and early detection are vital to limiting the spread of the invasive species in Michigan.

Here’s what DNR officials are saying you should do if you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult:

• Take one or more photos
• Make note of the date
• Time and location of the sighting
Report it online to the DNR’s Eyes in the Field .

Photos are necessary to verify a report and to aid in identification, officials say.

The DNR says the spotted lanternfly prefers to feed on the invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), but also feeds on a wide range of plants including grapes, and trees such as black walnut, river birch, willow, sumac, and red maple.

When the species feeds, it leaves behind a sticky liquid, honeydew, that can collect on the ground or surrounding vegetation. That results in the growth of sooty mold that can discolor and even kill plants.

“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.”

Here’s what Michiganders can do to prevent the spread of the spotted lanternfly:

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.

More information on the spotted lanternfly and how to report the insect can be found on the DNR website or the USDA website .

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Shawn Loveall

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