LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has announced that spotted lanternfly has been found in Oakland County. This is the first detection of the bug in Michigan.
A small population of spotted lanternfly was found in Pontiac last week. The species is an invasive plant hopper that is native to eastern Asia. They prefer to feed on the invasive ailanthus tree, which is also known as the “tree of heaven.” They also feed on other trees such as black walnut, river birch, willow, sumac, and red maple. Spotted lanternfly also feed on plants such as grapes. When feeding, they create a sticky liquid called honeydew. Honeydew can collect on the ground or surrounding vegetation, which results in the growth of sooty mold. The mold can discolor or kill plants.
“The research community is still learning about the spotted lanternfly and its potential for impacting our natural resources as well as treatments to eliminate this pest,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resources invasive communications coordinator Joanne Foreman. “It also could have an effect on important timber species statewide. What the long-term impact might be is unknown.”
“MDARD and MDNR (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) are working with the United States Department of Agriculture to define the extent of the infestation,” said MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director Mike Philip. “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.”
Spotted lanternfly was first found in the United States in southeastern Pennsylvania in 2014. Since that time, there have been confirmed sightings in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Now that the bug has been spotted in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources recommends the following:
- Check your vehicle: check doors, sides, bumpers, wheel wells, grills, and roofs for spotted lanternfly eggs or insects. If any insects or eggs are found, destroy them.
- Park with windows closed
- Remove and destroy pests: scrape eggs into a plastic bag which contains hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol, which will kill them.
- Remove host trees: remove ailanthus trees or “tree of heaven” to avoid attracting them.
- Report sighting: Photos can be sent to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ website to verify a report and help in identification.
“Although not unexpected, this is certainly tough news to share due to its potential to for it to negatively impact Michigan’s grade industry,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell. “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.”
More information on identifying or reporting spotted lanternfly can be found on the Michigan.gov website.