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Homeowner Suggestions for Managing Spotted Lanternfly



Authors as Published

Authored by Theresa A. Dellinger, Diagnostician, and Eric Day, Lab Manager, Insect ID Lab, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech; and Mark Sutphin, Senior Extension Agent, Virginia Cooperative Extension Frederick County


Spotted lanternfly (SLF) arrived in Virginia in 2018 and continues to spread across the state. This invasive pest strongly prefers feeding on tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, but it also feeds on many other plants. SLF is a pest of grapes and can be a nuisance around residences.


Adult SLF measure about 2.54 cm (1”) long and 1.3 cm (0.5”) wide. The forewings are light colored with black spots and rectangles (Fig. 1). The hindwings are red, black, and white (Fig. 2). At rest, the forewings covering the colorful hindwings (Fig. 1).

Figure 1, An adult spotted lanternfly rests on tree bark.
Figure 1. Adult spotted lanternfly (E. Day, Virginia Tech).
Figure 2, An adult spotted lanternfly with its wings fully extended.
Figure 2. Adult spotted lanternfly with wings spread (E. Day, Virginia Tech).

Young SLF nymphs (up to 10 mm or 0.4”) are wingless, black, and have white spots on the body and legs (Fig. 3). Mature nymphs (up to 16 mm or 0.6”) are red and black with white spots (Fig. 4). Nymphs are wingless and can jump but not fly.

Figure 3, Several young spotted lanternfly nymphs cluster on a fresh twig.
Figure 3. Young spotted lanternfly nymphs (Lawrence Barringer, PA Dept Ag,
Figure 4, A mature spotted lanternfly nymph rests on a twig.
Figure 4. Mature spotted lanternfly nymph (Lawrence Barringer, PA Dept Ag,

SLF lays egg masses on tree trunks and branches, as well as on many inanimate objects. Egg masses can be found on vehicles, mobile homes, lawn furniture, grills, dog houses, and decorative yard items. They can also be found on fencing, tarps, decking, construction materials, and firewood. Do not move any items that may have egg masses on them as the eggs can hatch in the new location.

Figure 5, A spotted lanternfly egg mass on a tree trunk.
Figure 5. Spotted lanternfly egg mass (Richard Gardner,

Life Cycle

Know what stage of SLF can be found during the year (Fig. 6). SLF overwinters as eggs laid in egg masses. Eggs hatch in the spring and nymphs are present into August, but adults can appear by late July. Adults begin laying eggs in September and continue until they are killed by cold weather (Fig. 6). The life stages can overlap and, depending on the time of year, multiple stages can be found at the same time.

Figure 6. Spotted lanternfly life stages and the time of the year that they are found.
Figure 6. Spotted lanternfly life stages and the time of the year that they are found.


  • Destroy egg masses during winter to reduce the number of nymphs in spring.
  • Contact and systemic insecticides are not effective against egg masses. Use dormant oil as a spot spray on egg masses in late winter and before bud break in the spring. Dormant oil will not prevent egg laying by SLF.
  • Use contact insecticides such as bifenthrin, zeta- cypermethrin, carbaryl, and malathion as spot sprays on nymphs and adults seen on the trunk, branches, and foliage of plants. Repeat spot sprays as needed.
  • Use neem oil, insecticidal soap, or pyrethrin sprays for organic control against nymphs and adults, but these will likely need to be repeated throughout the season.
  • The systemic insecticides dinotefuran and imidacloprid can be used as trunk sprays, trunk injections, or soil drenches, depending on the label.
  • Protect pollinators. Do not use oil drenches if trees and shrubs are in flower or if flowering plants are planted at the base of the tree or shrub.
  • Some horticultural and paraffinic oils can be used on egg masses during the growing season. Test on a few branches first to make sure they do not harm the tree. Treat the entire tree if no damage is observed after two weeks.
  • If you find SLF in an area not known to have it, take a photo or collect it before contacting your local Cooperative Extension office. There is no need to report SLF inside the quarantine area.
  • Be familiar with the SLF Quarantine in Virginia. Do not move any infested materials to limit the spread of SLF. Inspect all items that could have egg masses on them before moving them.

Additional Resources

For more information on SLF, visit Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Spotted Lanternfly In Virginia website. See the current Pest Management Guide for Home Grounds and Animals (VCE 456-018) for chemical recommendations for SLF.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

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Publication Date

March 7, 2024