Maryland Welcomes the Lanternfly

Words: Eliza Andrew

This spring, Marylanders have a new bug they expect to take over their state. Every year, as temperatures rise and winter comes to a close, the outbreak of the brown, odorous stink bug, which has occurred since 2006, hits Maryland at enormous levels. The harmless bug is nothing compared to the tree-eating gypsy moth that hit the state in the 1980s, yet the new alien to hit Maryland is expected to be even worse than the previous two. The spotted lanternfly, a four-winged bright bug, originated from parts of Asia including China, Vietnam, and several areas of India. It’s expected to travel down from southeast Pennsylvania this spring.

The bug was first introduced to America when a shipment of stone was brought to Berks County, PA, where the lanternfly eggs attached to the crates. Although these bugs aren’t directly harmful to people, they have infested the area and have left dozens of hardwood decks, furniture, and many fruit gardens covered in the lanternfly’s goo. The goo, otherwise known as honeydoo, can be left by the bug either while on the ground or flying above the item, dropping the honeydoo from above. Since this fly is not native to the area, and has a quick reproduction time, there are no known predators or remedies to regulate the population.

This brainy bug has tendency to latch onto different modes of transportation, including cars, trucks, and trains, making the lanternfly’s location spread even wider to unknown parts of the country. Although the bug has four, strong wings, the lanternfly is known to travel by hopping more than flying. Starting from a young age, the baby lanternfly or nymph has to learn to move around until it finally grows its wings later on in its development. Which means lots of bugs on the ground as well as in the air. They make their way inside of homes and buildings, similar to the stink bug.

There is no exact date on which we are to expect the spotted lanternfly, but since its first appearance in 2014 in Pennsylvania, the bug has turned up in parts of Delaware. Therefore, the bug is expected to make its timely appearance in Maryland this spring into summer. Residents of Maryland are cautioned to be on the lookout for the lanternfly’s egg sacks, which could be mistaken for unusual colored fungus on tree bark. If any sacks are found, the resident who spotted them is highly urged to alert Maryland wildlife control immediately to limit and prevent the infestation of the environmentally-harmful spotted lanternfly.