Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) (Lycorma delicatula) a distinctive planthopper native to China with a broad host range of more than 100 different plant species, was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014 and subsequently spread. It is now found in 11 US states, five of which have enacted quarantine and inspections to slow artificial movement of the pest.

This pest is not known to occur in Australia and is currently categorised by the viticulture industries as a medium to high emergency plant pest. Outside the US and China, it has been found in Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In California, SLF favours grapevines and tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which is regarded as an environmental weed in NSW, ACT, VIC, SA, QLD and WA, but has many other host plants, including apple, stone fruit, maple, poplar, walnut, and willow. It causes serious damage such as oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling, dieback and plant death. It also excretes honeydew when it feeds, encouraging the growth of black sooty mold.

SLF was designated a ‘pest of concern’ in California approximately two years ago which attracted research funding to address management issues including the absence of pheromone lures and mating disruption options.

The SLF which feeds on shoots and wood has been found to be relatively easy to kill with available insecticides, but its high mobility has been found to create management issues. SLF lays eggs on almost any surface including vehicles, and outdoor equipment and therefore long-distance spread is predominantly human-assisted. Post treatment, substantial reinfestations have been reported within days because of spread from the surrounding landscape.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in conjunction with the California PD/GWSS Board has put together a toolkit with a range of communication materials for industry. This toolkit includes some general information which is relevant to Australian grapegrowers.

With SLF nymphs and adults very distinctive as opposed to the egg masses which can be hard to spot, Vinehealth recommends you keep an eye out for this insect and report any potential sightings to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. For more information watch this short video.

Some of this information was provided as part of the annual CDFA Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium held online in December 2021. We sincerely thank the CDFA for making this symposium available worldwide.