Spotted lanternfly has spread to Illinois, threatening trees and crops

by Ethan Kim
Invasive Pest Detection Illinois

Spotted Lanternfly Presence Detected in Illinois, Posing Threat to Vegetation and Agriculture

Illinois, the latest state to detect the invasive spotted lanternfly, has now joined the ranks of regions grappling with this winged pest’s rapid expansion across the eastern United States. First identified nearly a decade ago within the country’s borders, these hitchhiking insects and their eggs have been inadvertently transported via vehicles and trains, spreading from southeast Pennsylvania to various corners of the nation.

Despite the spotted lanternfly’s visually striking appearance, featuring distinctive black spots and vibrant red wing markings, this sap-sucking insect has a voracious appetite for mass feeding on plants. Subsequently, it secretes a sticky, sugary substance known as honeydew, which attracts other insects and fosters the growth of a sooty mold variety. This mold, in turn, can further weaken the affected plants, presenting a substantial threat to crops and indigenous trees. The residue from their activities can also accumulate on houses, decks, and outdoor furniture.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture recently received a sighting report of one of these winged adult insects on September 16 at an undisclosed location. Upon investigation, department personnel identified a “moderately populated area of spotted lanternfly.” After collecting specimens, officials confirmed that these are indeed the first spotted lanternflies identified in the state.

While it is not anticipated that these insects will cause “widespread plant or tree death” in Illinois, they are likely to become a nuisance pest. This could potentially impact the agritourism sector, including orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards, according to Scott Schirmer, the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Nursery and Northern Field Office Section Manager.

Individuals who encounter these insects are encouraged to either crush them or carefully remove and place their egg masses into a container filled with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to ensure their elimination.

Originating from eastern Asia, the spotted lanternfly had previously been confirmed in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and various parts of the southeastern United States. Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, noted, “Spotted lanternfly has been inching closer to the Midwest and Illinois for close to a decade.”

Members of the public can contribute to tracking these insects by promptly reporting any sightings, along with photographic evidence, to [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Invasive Pest Detection Illinois

Q: What is the spotted lanternfly and why is it a concern in Illinois?

A: The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect known for its distinctive appearance with black spots and red wing markings. It’s a concern in Illinois because it feeds on plants, excreting a sticky substance that can harm crops and native trees. While it’s not expected to cause widespread plant or tree death, it can be a nuisance and impact agritourism.

Q: How did the spotted lanternfly arrive in Illinois?

A: The spotted lanternfly likely arrived in Illinois by hitchhiking on vehicles or trains. It was first detected in the United States nearly a decade ago and has been steadily spreading across the country.

Q: What steps are being taken to address the spotted lanternfly in Illinois?

A: The Illinois Department of Agriculture encourages residents to report sightings of spotted lanternflies. When spotted, individuals are urged to either crush the insects or carefully collect and place their egg masses in a container with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to eliminate them.

Q: What are the potential risks associated with spotted lanternflies in Illinois?

A: While they are not expected to cause widespread plant or tree death, spotted lanternflies can become a nuisance, particularly in agritourism areas like orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards. They can harm plants, attract other insects, and create a sooty mold that further weakens vegetation.

Q: How can the public help track and report spotted lanternflies in Illinois?

A: Members of the public can assist by reporting any sightings, including providing photographs, to [email protected]. This helps authorities monitor and manage the spread of these invasive pests.

More about Invasive Pest Detection Illinois

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AgriExpert45 September 28, 2023 - 9:37 pm

spotted lanternfly – hitchhike from east, sticky honeydew, hurt agritourism. smash’em & report!

NatureLover22 September 28, 2023 - 11:13 pm

red wings, black spots, these insects r pests! Illinois – report sightings now! Email [email protected]

Reader_123 September 29, 2023 - 11:33 am

spotted lanternfly, big prob 4 Illinois! bugs feed on plants, sooty mold, bad news 4 crops & trees!


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