We've been warning of this invasive insect for the last year, and unfortunately it has now been confirmed in Illinois, that's according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The Spotted Lanternfly or Lycorma delicatula, is beggining to invade the Midwest as a whole (Iowa you're next), and experts say it’s only a matter of time before the pest truly invades the surrounding states.

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Following a report of a live adult insect in Illinois on September 16th, state, federal, and local officials coordinated a site visit near the area of the report and identified a moderately populated area of spotted lanternfly on September 18th. Specimens were collected and submitted for identification, and results were confirmed on September 26th of the infestation.

The Spotted Lanternfly is native to China and was first detected in Pennsylvania in September of 2014. According to the USDA APHIS website, this insect is considered a "Hungry Pest." Hungry pests are invasive species that threaten to harm crops and trees. If left unchecked, they can devastate entire ag industries which in turn can eliminate jobs, threaten the local food supply, and cost businesses and American families billions.

Credit: TODAY
Credit: TODAY

Since the invasive pests arrival in the United States, the spotted lanternfly has migrated west and south and can now be found in 15 states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Illinois

How should I deal with a sighted Spotted Lanternfly?

Here are the official rules for dealing with Spotted Lanternflies or their egg clutches. Take a picture. Report it to the local department of agriculture. Then stomp it or scrape it off.

Invasive Species Spotted Lanternfly Permeates Across Northeast With Fears They Could Spread Further
Credit Getty Images

The eggs look white and glossy before they turn gray/brown when dried, similar to a smudge of clay.

Invasive Species Spotted Lanternfly Permeates Across Northeast With Fears They Could Spread Further
Credit: Getty Images

The Spotted lanternfly feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental, and woody trees. Examples include; Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Grapes, Hops, Maple Trees, Nectarines, Oak Trees, Peaches, Pine Trees, Plums, Poplar Trees, Sycamore Trees, Walnut Trees, and Willow Trees.

According to the USDA, the spotted lanternfly does not fly long distances, but is a very good 'hitchhiker.' In fall, female fly's lay mud-like egg masses on tree bark, and outdoor items; like, lawnmowers, bikes, grills, and vehicles. If allowed to spread in the United States, the pest could seriously impact the country’s grape, orchard, and logging industries. Agriculture industries and experts agree this bug could be a serious problem, even SNL took the chance to hop on the "hate this bug" bandwagon. Researchers from Penn State have said the spotted lanternfly could drain Pennsylvania's economy of at least $324 million annually and cause the loss of about 2,800 jobs. Illinois's problem is just beginning, but the Illinois Department of Agriculture is hopeful, even with the bugs discovery.

"If there is a silver lining associated with spotted lantern fly in Illinois, it is that we have no reason to believe that widespread plant or tree death will result from its presence. This is likely going to be a nuisance pest that interferes with our ability to enjoy outdoor spaces and may have some impact on the agritourism industry, including orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards."

-Scott Schirmer, Illinois Department of Agriculture's Nursery and Northern Field Office Section Manager

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The Today Show did an in-depth look at the invasive species as well;

Spotted Lanternfly signs to watch for in your plants include; plants that ooze or weep and have a fermented odor. Buildup of sticky fluid on plants and on the ground underneath infested plants. And sooty mold on infested plants.

Invasive Species Spotted Lanternfly Permeates Across Northeast With Fears They Could Spread Further
Credit: Getty Images                    A fresh Egg Clutch of the Spotted Lanternfly

How can we avoid the spread of this nasty pest?

The USDA lays out some steps to follow when dealing with this bug.

  • When preparing for the winter holidays/travel, check outdoor items for spotted lanternfly egg masses, including items you bring indoors. Scrape any egg masses into a container filled with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them. Remember to take photos first, and report your evidence to state authorities!
  • Inspect your trees and plants for signs of this pest, particularly at dusk and at night when the insects tend to gather in large groups on the trunks or stems of plants.
  • Inspect trees (especially tree of heaven; another invasive Chinese plant species), bricks, stone, and other smooth surfaces for egg masses.
  • Again, report any sightings if you find spotted lanternflies, nymphs, or egg clutches.

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