One Year of Spotted Lanternfly in NC

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Last month, we reached a milestone one year since spotted lanternfly was detected in North Carolina. The first active NC infestation of spotted lanternfly was confirmed on June 29, 2022 in Forsyth County. While the introduction of an invasive species is nothing to celebrate, reaching a year since initial detection without finding additional infestations certainly is! In the past year, sightings have been reported through the NCDA&CS See It – Snap It – Report It system. Thankfully, none have led to the discovery of another established population in the state. 

A bright red and black insect with white spots. perched on a branch

Before becoming adults, spotted lanternflies are bright red and black with white spots. Image: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive, sap-feeding insect native to China, India, and Vietnam. It was first discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. Now present in 14 states, it poses a threat to agriculture, agrotourism, and is a significant public nuisance. Spotted lanternfly can feed on more than 100 species of plants and is particularly concerning for grape crops; feeding can reduce yield of grape vines by 90% and in some cases kill the vine. In addition, spotted lanternfly congregates in public areas and backyard and excretes a very sticky and very messy substance called honeydew. 

A gray insect with black spots on a tree trunk.

Spotted lanternfly adults. Image: Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University,

Keep your eyes peeled! This time of year, the spotted lanternfly is in its showier life stages. Before becoming adults, immatures (called nymphs) go through a colorful stage: they are bright red and black with white spots. They molt large, beautiful adults with spotted wings and red underwings by the end of the summer. Adults have already been observed in NC this year. As they become easier to spot, both due to size and their flashy colors, keep a sharp eye out wherever you go. If you suspect you see one, take a picture and report it!

As work continues to control the spotted lanternfly in North Carolina, we would like to take a minute to thank those who have reported sightings and have been mindful of their movement from and through infested areas. Your help in keeping this agricultural and nuisance pest at bay is greatly appreciated.

Written by Abigail Ratcliff