The spotted lanternfly, or Lycorma delicatula, was found in Indiana for the first time in Switzerland County earlier this week. Photo by Angela Rust provided by Indiana Deparment of Natural Resources
The spotted lanternfly, or Lycorma delicatula, was found in Indiana for the first time in Switzerland County earlier this week. Photo by Angela Rust provided by Indiana Deparment of Natural Resources

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking all Hoosiers to be on the lookout for invasive species, including the spotted lanternfly.

And while that particular species has only been seen in one county in the state so far, other varieties of unwelcome pests have been taking off in population this year.

Megan Abraham said people in Wabash County were “most likely” inundated with the gypsy moth this year.

“This invasive pest seems to have exploded in population numbers this year for some reason,” said Abraham.

Abraham said, “If you have any ash trees left (locally), I’m sure you’ve seen the damage that emerald ash borer has done.”

Otherwise, Abraham said some of the pests and pathogens that they were worried about coming into Indiana were the Asian longhorned beetle, sudden oak death, boxwood blight, hemlock woolly adelgid and the box tree moth.

On Monday, DNR Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology (DEPP) director Megan Abraham said the spotted lanternfly, or Lycorma delicatula, was found in Indiana for the first time in Switzerland County earlier this week.

Abraham said this was “the farthest west the insect has been found.”

“This federally regulated invasive species has a detrimental impact upon plant growth and fruit production, especially in vineyards and orchards,” said Abraham.

Abraham said a homeowner in Vevay contacted DNR’s DEPP with a picture that was taken outside his home of a fourth instar, or developmental stage, larvae.

“DEPP staff surveyed the site and discovered an infestation in the woodlot adjacent to a few homes in the area,” said Abraham.

Abraham said the site is within two miles of the Ohio River and the Markland Dam.

Abraham said DEPP and USDA are conducting an investigation to determine exactly how large the infestation is and where it could have come from, as well as how to limit the spread and eradicate the population.

Abraham said the spotted lanternfly is a planthopper that originated in Asia. It was first discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture tried to limit the spread of this pest, but it excels at being a hitchhiker and is often spread unknowingly by humans,” said Abraham.

Abraham said the adult spotted lanternfly has two sets of wings, and the underwing has a very distinct red color with spots on the outer wings. The fourth instar of the insect is bright red with black and white markings. The egg masses of this invasive insect look like mud and they can be spread by vehicle transport including recreational vehicles, cargo carriers, or truck transport, and freight trains. They can also be spread through trade materials sold in infested areas that are shipped out of state including nursery stock, outdoor furniture and lumber.

“Anyone receiving goods from the east coast should inspect for signs of the insect, especially if the commodity is to be kept outdoors,” said Abraham.

Abraham said the spotted lanternfly prefers to feed on tree of heaven, or Ailanthus altissima, but it has been found on more than 103 species of plant including walnut, oak, maple and various fruit trees.

“This insect is often found on grapevines in vineyards. Adult insects have piercing, sucking mouthparts and weaken the plants through feeding on them, which can make it difficult for the plant to survive the winter months. Congregating spotted lanternfly insects produce a sticky substance called ‘honeydew’ in large quantities that over time becomes infested with sooty mold that attracts other pests in the area,” said Abraham.

Abraham said the DNR is asking for all citizens to keep an eye out for spotted lanternfly.

“The bright color of both the last instars and the adults of the insect should be present at this time of the year,” said Abraham.

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