Crop-Destroying, Invasive Insect Found in Michigan
For the past few years, State of Michigan officials have said to be on the lookout for a colorful insect that that damages fruit, hops, and hardwood trees.
This week the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has shared the spotted lanternfly has been spotted in Michigan.
Spotted Lanternfly Found in Michigan
Previously, live spotted lanternfly had not been found in Michigan, however, there were confirmed cases of dead lanternfly found in separate locations across the state. In these cases, the dead insects were found in packaging materials or objects shipped from states with known infestations.
According to MDARD, a small population of spotted lanternfly was detected in Pontiac in Oakland County last week. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed the finding on August 10, 2022.
MDARD Director Gary McDowell says,
Although not unexpected, this is certainly tough news to share due to its potential to for it to negatively impact Michigan’s grape industry. Spotted lanternfly has been moving closer to the state over the last few years. MDARD, along with our state, local and federal partners, has been working tirelessly to inform and educate growers and the public about this highly invasive insect.
Native to Asia, the invasive insects were first spotted in the U.S. in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania and have spread rapidly across the country.
Spotted Lanternfly infestations have been confirmed in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Mayland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia - and now, Michigan.
MDARD and the DNR are working with the United States Department of Agriculture to define the extent of the infestation.
Mike Philip, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director says,
Although we can’t pinpoint exactly how it got here, it likely hitchhiked on nursery stock brought in from an infested state and has possibly been here for several months. We are in the assessment stage of response, but it is important to note that typical pest management techniques have not proven effective for eliminating the pest in other states
Damage Caused by Spotted Lanternfly
Spotted lanternflies cause damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sticky liquid called honeydew. This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold can kill plants. The honeydew often attracts other pests like hornets, wasps, and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and crop harvests.
This insect could damage or kill more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops, plums, cherries, oak, willow, maple and sycamore.
Robert Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist for MDARD says,
“Our agricultural and natural resources are part of Michigan’s identity and spotted lanternfly has the potential to forever change that landscape. With its ability to wreak havoc grapes, apples, hops, stone fruits and more, this could be devastating to Michigan’s farmers and the state’s food and agriculture industry.”
Here's what to be on the lookout for:
Spotted Lantern Fly: Possibly Michigan's Next Invasive Species
What To Do If You Spot a Spotted Lanternfly
If you see eggs, juvenile or adult spotted lanternflies, MDARD asks that you record the location, take pictures if you can, and report it to them.
MDARD shares these steps to limit the spread of the spotted lanternfly:
- Check Your Vehicle: Before leaving a parking lot or work site, inspect vehicles for spotted lanternfly egg or insects. Check doors, sides, bumpers, wheel wells, grills, and roofs. If found, destroy any eggs or insects you find
- Park with Windows Closed: The spotted lanternfly and its nymphs can enter vehicles unsuspectedly. When parked, make sure to keep windows closed.
- Remove and Destroy Pests: Crush nymphs and adult insects. Scrape egg masses into a plastic bag containing hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them.
- Remove Host Trees: Spotted lanternflies prefer the ailanthus tree, also known as “tree of heaven.” Try to remove trees from properties to avoid attracting spotted lanternfly.
- Report Sightings: Send in required photos to Eyes in the Field. Photos are necessary to verify a report and to aid in identification
You can find more information on spotted lanternfly here.