In 2014, a new invasive species from Asia was detected in Pennsylvania, but by the time government knows about it, it is too late and spotted lanternflies have since spread to more than 100 counties across 14 states. 

Forests and cropland have paid the price, and a new study used agent-based models that incorporated information on habitat suitability, life history, movement and natural dispersal behaviors to map the dynamics of their infestation. If environmentalists want to help have fewer pesticides in use, get them early. Spotted lanternfly egg cases look like a smudge of brownish-gray dirt, several inches in length and an inch or two wide. Just underneath the top layer sit several rows of eggs. Removing a single egg case destroys 30-50 spotted lanternfly eggs, helping to reduce the population.

Use the edge of a credit card or ice scraper to move the entire egg mass into a container with rubbing alcohol to ensure that no eggs survive removal.

Kill it with fire. Credit: University of Delaware/ Katie Young and Isaiah Bell

Upon hatching, spotted lanternflies develop through four juvenile life stages and largely mobilize by crawling and jumping before they mature into winged adults. From June through September, both juveniles and adults are present, making this a critical time of year when human-mediated dispersal is most likely. This is also when mating and egg laying occur. People in areas with established spotted lanternfly populations be vigilant when traveling across state lines and follow suggested protocols for monitoring their vehicles when going on long-distance trips.

If they infect trees, those have to be destroyed to stop the spread.

“We were quite surprised by the overwhelming effect of human-mediated dispersal in accurately predicting spread dynamics. This supported the current observational data and some of the long-distance jumps we know the spotted lanternfly has made,” said Zach Ladin, supervisory wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and lead author on the study.