Invasive Insect Activity Is Heating Up! See Them? Report Them!

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The warm weather seems to be here to stay and with that, last year’s new invasive insect arrivals are this year’s pests to watch for. Both the spotted lanternfly and elm zigzag sawfly have recently emerged in North Carolina and we need you on the lookout for them!

Spotted Lanternfly 

Be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly egg masses and nymphs. Spotted lanternfly nymphs were first documented this spring in the infested area in Forsyth and Guilford counties on March 27th. After hatching, nymphs stay on or near the egg mass shortly then move to new growth on plant hosts to feed. They prefer tree-of-heaven, but feed on at least 70 host plants in the US. Sightings can be reported through the NCDA&CS See It – Snap It- Report It system. 

Mud-like smear (egg mass) on tree bark, and small black and white spotted insects on plants

Spotted lanternfly egg masses (left) are hatching now in North Carolina. Nymphs stay close to egg mass for a short time (right) before migrating to a plant. Young nymphs are black with white spots and older nymphs are red and black with white spots (inset). Photos: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, (left); Abigail Ratcliff, NC State University (right); Sara Lalk, NCDA&CS (inset).

Elm Zigzag Sawfly

The elm zigzag sawfly has also been spotted for the first time year. Adults, eggs, and larvae were all documented in the infested area in Surry and Stokes counties on April 14th. All life stages can be found on and around elm trees and maybe related species. Be wary of adults hitchhiking inside of vehicles and pupae laid on outdoor objects- it just takes one to start a new infestation elsewhere! Sightings can be reported to your county extension for NC Forest Service office. 

Green leaves with small bumps at edge (eggs), a black fly-like insect (adult elm zigzag sawfly), and a small green caterpillar-like larvae feeding in a leaf in a zigzag pattern

Elm zigzag sawfly eggs (top left) can be found at the edge of elm leaves. Adults (bottom left) and young larvae (right) are also active right now. Adults are small balck sawflies and larvae make a zigzag shape in the leaf as they feed. Photos: Delaney Serpan, NC State (top left, bottom left), Kelly Oten, NC State (right).

Written by Abigail Ratcliff