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Species Spotlight: Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that wreaks havoc on native agriculture, was recently found in Maryland for the first time.

Published November 07, 2018

Spotted lanternflies are native to China, India and Vietnam. It’s believed they made their way to the United States in 2014 in an international shipment of landscaping stones. Since then, these insects have spread to 13 counties in southwest Pennsylvania, as well as nearby areas in Delaware, New York and Virginia.

Spotted lanternfly

Lanternflies don’t bite or sting, but they threaten important native species by sucking fluids from the plants’ stems or leaves, draining them of life. They feed on various plants, including hardwood, pine and fruit trees as well as blueberry bushes and grapevines.

They also secrete honeydew while feeding, which not only attracts other insects, but also supports the growth and spread of black mold.

Maryland’s first recorded spotted lanternfly was found in a trap in Cecil County. This spotted lanternfly was male and found at the end of the season in our region, but there’s still concern of an invasion next spring. According to our experts, it’s only a matter of time before more are located.

Spotted lanternflies are only about 1 inch long and are identified by their black, moth-like bodies and their brightly colored wings that have patches of white, brown, black and orange-red. Their wings are also covered with black spots. Despite having wings, these insects actually jump more than they fly.

If you find a lanternfly in your home or on your property, place it in a sealed plastic bag or a jar of rubbing alcohol and take a picture. It’s important to report the sighting as fast as possible to the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5920, by email at DontBug.MD@marylandgov or on their website. It’s also important to check any outdoor equipment you have when traveling to make sure lanternflies do not latch on, and not to bring any firewood home with you!

Learn more about the National Aquarium’s efforts to monitor native—and non-native—species in Baltimore!

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