Hitchhiking spotted lanternfly threatens state's wine industry

  • Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2021

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Your mother probably warned you about picking up hitchhikers.

University of Missouri Extension entomologist Kevin Rice says your mom was right, especially when it comes to spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that creates severe economic losses in grape.

With more than 130 wineries in Missouri, this poses a significant threat to the state’s tourism economy, says MU Extension viticulturist Dean Volenberg.

SLF spreads when females lay eggs on the smooth metal surfaces of tractor-trailers, trains and other vehicles. Native to China, SLF was first seen in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2014 and is now established in at least five other states and detected as a hitchhiker in several other states.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture and other agencies are looking for this pest in areas where shipping and imported goods are common, says Volenberg. They also are surveying places where preferred hosts grow, including vineyards, orchards and stands of the invasive tree-of-heaven.

The adult lanternflies are about an inch long with gray forewings and black spots. They are uniquely patterned and do not look similar to most of our native insect species, Rice says.

For more information

• Spotted lanternfly management, Penn State Extension: extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly-management-for-residents.

HungryPests.com, a service of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

What to do if you spot lanternflies

• Capture it if you can.

• Take a picture of it. Email to [email protected]. You can also report it to the Missouri Department of Agriculture at [email protected].

• Collect a specimen and put it in a vial filled with alcohol to preserve it.

• Note where you found it and take it to your county extension center.

Sign up for free pest alerts from MU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management program at ipm.missouri.edu/pestMonitoring.

Photos available for this release:

Spotted lanternfly. Photo courtesy Penn State Extension.

When its wings are not spread, the spotted lanternfly is fairly unremarkable in appearance. Photo by Greg Hoover, Penn State University.

Writer: Linda Geist

Media Contact

Dean Volenberg

Kevin Rice

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