DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A relatively new species to the Buckeye state, the spotted lanternfly, was first discovered in 2020 in Mingo Junction.

Since then, there have been reports sporadically throughout the state. The insect is native to Asia, but is invasive in the United States, potentially causing problems in the years to come for around 70 species of plants.

Dr. Don Cipollini, Wright State University professor of biology, said, “This is a pest we’re concerned about primarily for things like fruit trees, apples, grapes, hops, things like that.”

Experts say if you see them, kill them. The sap sucking insect gets food from inside the tree and the byproduct given off can ruin a harvest.

Jonathan Shields, agriculture inspection manager with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said, “When they feed, they produce this waste and we call it honeydew, but it promotes the growth of a city mold. And if the mold is on the fruits, then they’re really not usable.” 

The spotted lanternfly is mainly in the adult stage of their life cycle, when they are most prone to migrate and lay eggs to end the season and restart the process for next year. They could even be in the Miami Valley right now.

Shields said, “I think we probably would expect to have them in other areas that we haven’t identified yet.”

He added, “Typically, they hitchhike with modes of transportation, so various life stages can just hold on to moving vehicles and then also they’re not super particular about where they lay those eggs.”

You are encouraged to report any sightings of the spotted lanternfly to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.