This Handsome Pest Arrives in Another State

Spotted lanternfly, a destructive invasive species, spreads to Illinois
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2023 1:30 PM CDT
This Handsome Pest Arrives in Another State
A smashed spotted lanternfly sits on the ground in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.   (AP Photo, File)

Illinois is the latest state to find invasive spotted lanternflies, a winged insect that's spreading across the eastern US. First detected in the US nearly a decade ago, the hitchhiking pest and its eggs have been getting rides on vehicles and trains as they expand from southeast Pennsylvania across the country, per the AP. The Illinois Department of Agriculture said a sighting of one of the winged adult insects was reported on Sept. 16 at an undisclosed location. Department staffers visited that area and found a "moderately populated area of spotted lanternfly." After collecting specimens, officials confirmed Tuesday they are the first spotted lanternflies identified in the state.

In Illinois, they're not expected to cause "widespread plant or tree death" but will likely become a nuisance pest that "may have some impact on the agritourism industry, including orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards," said Scott Schirmer of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Anyone who sees the insects is encouraged to smash them or scrape the egg masses into a container with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them.

Native to eastern Asia, they've previously been confirmed in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, as well as parts of the southeastern US, including Virginia. Although the inch-long planthopper looks pretty with its distinctive black spots and bright red wing markings, the sap-sucking bug likes to mass and feed on plants. It then excretes a sticky, sugary waste called honeydew that attracts insects and a form of sooty mold that can finish off the already weakened plants, posing a danger to crops and native trees. The gunk can also collect on houses, decks, and outdoor furniture.

(More spotted lanternfly stories.)

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