Residents asked to look out for invasive fly that could ‘wreak havoc’ on Michigan

spotted lanternfly
Photo credit Adult spotted lanternflies are identifiable by their bright body and wing colors. )Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org).

(WWJ) Have you seen this bug? If so, state officials want to hear about it. 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is asking the public to be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly — an invasive species with the potential to seriously affect Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources.

The MDARD says this insect could damage or kill more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees in Michigan.

“Spotted lanternfly may be a colorful insect worthy of an Instagram post, but also is an invasive species with the potential to wreak havoc on trees, plants and other natural resources, resulting in millions of dollars in damages,” said Robert Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist for MDARD. “In addition, it has the potential to impact grapes, stone fruits, apples and other crops in Michigan’s fruit belt as well as important timber species statewide.”

First found in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, the spotted lanternfly has been spreading rapidly across the nation, with infestations confirmed in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and West Virginia.

The spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold can kill plants and foul surfaces -- often attracting other pests; particularly hornets, wasps and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and complicating crop harvests.

While officials say the spotted lanternfly has not yet been detected in Michigan, they want to be proactive.

Photos of the flies and their eggs shared by MDARD could help Michiganders identify them if, or when they do arrive.

spotted lanterfly photos

Early detection and prevention could be vital in preventing the spread of spotted lanternfly in Michigan. The insect has recently been discovered in small populations in parts of Ohio, as well as southern Indiana, which suggests it is beginning to move in further on the midwest.

Confirmed Spotted Lanternfly Locations

Confirmed Spotted Lanternfly Locations
Photo credit Cornell.edu

If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, you are asked to take photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting, and report it to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development by email to MDA-Info@Michigan.gov. Or, call the MDARD Customer Service Center at 800-292-3939. If possible, Michianders are also asked to collect a specimen in a container for verification.

spotted lanterfly life cycle

For more information on identifying or reporting spotted lanternfly, visit Michigan.gov/SpottedLanternfly.