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Spotted lanternfly adult.

Spotted Lanternfly: Georgia, Let’s be on the Lookout!

Spotted lanternfly, sometimes abbreviated SLF, has not been detected in Georgia…yet, but it was detected next door in North Carolina in Summer 2022. This is an invasive insect to keep our eyes open for, given its potential to damage crops and trees. Spotted lanternfly is a planthopper, a type of “true bug” that’s more closely related to stink bugs and aphids than “flies”, despite its name. It is native to Asia and was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. Spotted lanternfly currently has populations in over 15 states in the mid-Atlantic, New England, mid-West, and south-Atlantic regions of the US. Early detection in a state means that state and federal agencies, landowners, and homeowners can more successfully manage a population before it grows bigger.

Here’s what to look for:

Spotted lanternfly immature stage with red coloration.
Spotted lanternfly immature stage with red coloration. Photo credit: Elizabeth McCarty, University of Georgia

Immature spotted lanternflies are up to ½ inch long and start out with black bodies and white spots. As they mature, they will develop red coloring on their backs. These life stages will be out during the spring and into early-summer. Spotted lanternfly adults develop in mid-summer and are likely to be present through fall. They are 1 inch long with front wings that are grayish-brown with black spots and back wings with brown, red, and light-colored patches.

Spotted lanternfly is most often moved from one location to another during its egg stage, which can last from summer to spring. Egg masses are whiteish and turn to a grayish muddy appearance over time. They can be laid on surfaces like lawn furniture and play equipment that may be transported during a move. Once in a new location, spotted lanternfly will begin feeding on local plants, including tree of heaven (an invasive plant), native tree species, and economically important crop plants like grapevines, apples, peaches, and plums. Spotted lanternfly is especially problematic on grapevines when infestations are heavy. They excrete honeydew, a sugary waste fluid, that black sooty mold grows on. This is aesthetically unpleasant for homeowners. Additionally, spotted lanternfly adults can swarm, which is a nuisance.

Spotted lanternfly immature stages.
Spotted lanternfly immature stages. Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

Spotted lanternfly feeding can cause sap oozing, wilting, or dieback on plants, including trees. They tend to gather in large groups on tree trunks and plant stems, especially at dusk and night time, so keep your eyes open for them. If you suspect an insect is a spotted lanternfly, please take a picture of it and contact your local UGA County agent

Additionally, the Warnell School Forest Health Lab, Georgia Forestry Commission, and Georgia Department of Agriculture produced spotted lanternfly educational materials, available on the Georgia Invasive Species Task Force website.


Header: Spotted lanternfly adult. Photo credit: Elizabeth McCarty, University of Georgia

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