Lycorma delicatula

Geographic Range

Spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) are a species of planthoppers native to China, Taiwan, India, and Vietnam. The species is invasive to Korea, Japan, and the United States. Spotted lanternflies appeared in Berks county, Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, it has appeared in localized areas of New York, Delaware, and Virginia. If seen, spotted lanternflies should be killed on sight and reported at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. (Dara, et al., 2015; Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019)


Spotted lanternflies can be found on more than 70 species of plants, including fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, and vines. Trees of heaven are their preferred host plant. Spotted lanternflies are most commonly found on trees with smooth bark. (Dara, et al., 2015; Johnson, et al., 2019)

Physical Description

Adult spotted lanternflies can be confused for moths. Females are 24-27 mm in length, while males are 21-22 mm. The heads and wings of spotted lanternflies are dark-brown to black in color. Members of this species have four wings. The front wings are greyish and have dark spots. Back wings are black-tipped, white in the center, and bright red near the body. Spotted lanternflies have a wide abdomen with yellow and black-brown stripes. The abdomen and back wings can only be seen when in flight. The abdomen of females is red at the end. (Dara, et al., 2015)

Nymphs have four instars of development. The first three stages have black bodies with white spots. Nymphs in the fourth and final instar have yellow-ish white spots and a reddish color. Each instar increases in size. (Dara, et al., 2015)

Eggs masses are covered in a sticky, off-white or grey substance that turns a grey-ish brown color over time. These masses may be mistaken for spots of mud or seed pods from plants. (Johnson, et al., 2019)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • female more colorful
  • Range length
    21 to 27 mm
    0.83 to 1.06 in


Eggs are laid from August to early November and overwinter. The survival of eggs depends on winter temperatures. The eggs hatch in May. Nymphs go through four nymphal instars of development followed by incomplete metamorphosis. Adults emerge in July. (Dara, et al., 2015)


No information about mating systems could be found.

Spotted lanternflies are a univoltine species, but females lay multiple egg masses each year with sexual reproduction. Eggs are laid in batches of 20-30 on trees with smooth bark, stones, fence posts, and machinery. In Korea, there are typically 3-4 egg masses per tree. In Pennsylvania, there can be up to 197 egg masses per tree. Eggs laid at the end of the season will overwinter until April or May when the first instar hatches. (Kim, et al., 2011)

  • Breeding interval
    Once yearly
  • Breeding season
    September-early December
  • Range eggs per season
    20 to 30

Spotted lanternflies exhibit no parental involvement. (Dara, et al., 2015)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


Spotted lanternflies have a lifespan of one year. The survival of eggs depends on winter temperatures, with a hatch rate of 60-90%. (Dara, et al., 2015)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 years


Spotted lanternflies are active during the day. They do not tend to fly away when approached. Adults are good jumpers and climbers. Nymphs are strong climbers and will attempt to climb up trees after they emerge. Physical barriers, strong winds, and rough bark can cause them to fall. If they fall, they will start climbing again. (Dara, et al., 2015; Kim, et al., 2011)

If the density of nymphs present on one host plant is too high, they may become aggressive with each other. In this scenario, when a nymph on a highly populated plant tries to eat near another nymph that was already there, they will fight. The nymph who was already there will raise its forelimbs as a challenge. The approaching nymph will either flee or attempt to mount the challenging nymph. If mounted, the challenging nymph will attempt to throw off the approaching nymph. The challenging nymph typically wins. (Dara, et al., 2015; Kim, et al., 2011)

If too many nymphs live on one plant, they may try to fight each other. This happens when a nymph on a highly crowded plant tries to eat near another nymph that was already there. The nymph who was already there will raise its forelimbs as a challenge. The invading nymph will run away or try to mount the challenging nymph. If the challenging nymph is mounted, it will try to throw off the invading nymph. The challenging nymph typically wins. (Dara, et al., 2015; Kim, et al., 2011)

Communication and Perception

Not much information is known about the communication and perception of spotted lanternflies. They likely use tactile, visual, and chemical channels of perception. Tactile, visual, and chemical methods of communication are possible. (Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019; Kim, et al., 2011)

Food Habits

Spotted lanternflies are known to feed upon the sap in the phloem of more than 70 species of plants, including apple trees, birch trees, cherry trees, grapevines, lilacs, maple trees, and poplar trees. Both nymphs and adults feed upon trees of heaven, an invasive plant species. The preferred hosts of spotted lanternflies may be chosen because of their toxic secondary metabolites. (Dara, et al., 2015; Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019; Johnson, et al., 2019)

When spotted lanternflies feed, they pierce the bark to create wounds on the plants. They also produce a sticky substance called honeydew. (Dara, et al., 2015; Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019)

  • Primary Diet
  • herbivore
    • eats sap or other plant foods
  • Plant Foods
  • sap or other plant fluids


Through their preference for eating plants that produce cytotoxic byproducts, spotted lanternflies can be toxic when eaten. The greyish color of the forewings may be a camouflaging adaptation. Similarly, the bright red colored back wings may serve as a warning to predators. (Gillett-Kaufman and Griffith, 2019; Lee, et al., 2020)

Spotted lanternflies repel many generalist predators. They are not often preyed upon throughout their invasive range. In China, larvae are preyed upon by dryinid wasps and one species of parasitoid chalcid wasps. (Barringer and Smyers, 2016; Dara, et al., 2015)

  • Known Predators

Ecosystem Roles

In their invasive range, spotted lanternflies are a disruptive species. They have no native predators and repel many generalist predators with their unpalatable or toxic taste. Parasitoid wasps prey upon the larvae of spotted lanternflies. (Dara, et al., 2015; Lee, et al., 2020)

Spotted lanternflies feed on and damage fruit trees, woody trees, ornamental trees, and vines. They are known to prey upon more than 70 species of plants, including apple trees, birch trees, cherry trees, grapevines, lilacs, maple trees, and poplar trees. (Dara, et al., 2015; Lee, et al., 2020)

While feeding, spotted lanternflies produce a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew. Honeydew attracts pests like hornets, wasps, and ants. Black sooty mold grows on the sugary substance, reducing the rate of photosynthesis. Pests, pathogens from infect wounds, the presence of mold, and decreased photosynthesis can impact the health of the plant. (Johnson, et al., 2019)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • dryinid wasps (Dryinus browni)
  • chalcid wasps (Anastatus orientalis)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Spotted lanternflies are threats to grape and orchard industries. They damage the plants they feed on, even killing the plants in some cases. In the United States, spotted lanternflies disturb more than 40 types of agricultural crops and landscaping plants. If spotted in the United States, they should be killed on site. (Dara, et al., 2015; Lee, et al., 2020)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status


Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


uses sight to communicate


Barringer, E., E. Smyers. 2016. Predation of the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) by two native Hemiptera. Entomological News, 126: 71-73.

Dara, S., L. Barringer, S. Arthurs. 2015. Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae): A New Invasive Pest in the United States. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 6(1): 20. Accessed June 09, 2020 at

Gillett-Kaufman, J., . Griffith. 2019. "Common Name: Spotted Lanternfly" (On-line). Featured Creatures Entomology & Nemotology. Accessed June 09, 2020 at

Johnson, A., D. McCullough, R. Isaacs. 2019. "Spotted lanternfly: A colorful cause for concern" (On-line). MSU Extension Invasive Species. Accessed June 09, 2020 at

Kim, J., E. Lee, Y. Seo, N. Kin. 2011. Cyclic Behavior of Lycorma delicatula (Insecta: Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) on Host Plants. Journal of Insect Behavior, 24: 423. Accessed June 09, 2020 at

Lee, D., Y. Park, T. Leskey. 2020. A review of biology and management of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), an emerging global invasive species. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 22(2): 589-596. Accessed June 09, 2020 at