Invasive Mottled Lantern spotted in Indiana


INDIANAPOLIS — Although this bug can have beautiful colors and patterns, conservation officials are asking people to be on the lookout before it causes major problems in the state.

On Thursday, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said the invasive spotted lanternfly had officially migrated to northern Indiana. Cliff Sadof, professor of entomology and Purdue Extension fellow, said the migration poses a significant agricultural risk for grape growers and bee and walnut growers.

Sadof says that while the spotted lanternfly feeds on over 100 different types of plants, it can only reproduce when it feeds on walnut trees, vines or the tree of heaven. The damage can stress the plant, deplete its health, and potentially kill it.

Elizabeth Long, assistant professor of horticultural crop entomology at Purdue University, said one of the best defenses grape growers can have against the spotted lanternfly is learning to identify the life stages of the insect and to remain vigilant while inspecting them.

Illustration of the mottled lantern’s reproductive cycle. (AGCommunications)

“Many of the insecticides grape growers currently use for other insect pests will also knock down the spotted lanternfly, so additional sprays as a preventative are not necessary at this time,” Long said. “As for next season, the same strategy is needed. It is essential to keep an eye out for spotted lanternfly hitchhikers and to avoid moving objects that may accidentally move insects. Populations of spotted lantern flies feeding on vines can dramatically reduce winter hardiness or kill the crop altogether.

Beekeepers should also be on the lookout for the insect. Brock Harpur, an assistant professor of entomology at Purdue, said beekeeping equipment can also provide the perfect place for spotted lanterns to lay eggs, allowing the insect to move around the state.

“It is imperative that beekeepers keep a close eye out for signs of the spotted lanternfly in their area and on their equipment,” Harpur said. “If the spotted lanternfly becomes established in all areas of Indiana, it is expected that honeydew, the secretion left behind by the spotted lanternfly, will be part of our late summer honey harvest. “

Harpur added that although bees make good use of honeydew, it is undesirable. It can give honey a smoky taste and smell and is less sweet than typical honey. The honeydew-tinted product has a darker brown color and a noticeable aftertaste.

While the adult lanterns have beautiful colors and patterns, the eggs look like a splash of mud. This is why the department encourages the population to remain vigilant to contain the populations.

Anyone who spots the insect should photograph it and send the image and location to [email protected], or call 1-866-No-Exotic.


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