Spotted Lanternfly Detected in Middle Tennessee

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) has confirmed the detection of spotted lanternfly (SLF) in Davidson County. Tennessee is the 16th state to detect SLF since it was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.

“Our Plant Certification Section inspectors responded to a tip from a vigilant citizen about a sighting of spotted lanternfly,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “This non-native insect is harmful to a range of crops and natural resources in our state. Wood products businesses and fruit growers could be especially vulnerable, and we want your help in watching out for this pest and eliminating any you find.”

SLF are invasive insects that can spread long distances when people and vehicles move infested material or items containing egg masses.

Adults emerge in late summer and early fall and are about one inch long and one-half inch wide with visually striking wings. Its favored host is Tree of Heaven and it shows preference for grape vines and fruit trees. It may also appear in other trees such as black walnut, maple, and yellow-poplar.

Infested trees may exhibit wilting, defoliation, dieback, yield loss, and in severe cases, death. SLF adults and nymphs typically gather in large numbers on host plants feeding on nutrients and water. SLF lay eggs on trunks of host plants and other flat surfaces.

If you see SLF or an egg mass, take photos, then complete the form on Protect Tennessee Forests website at www.tn.gov/content/tn/protecttnforests/resources/report-a-pest.html.

Next, stomp the insect and destroy egg masses by smashing or dousing with rubbing alcohol. Check vehicles, boats, or campers to make sure they aren’t carrying any insects or eggs.

The State Entomologist and Plant Certification Section staff are studying SLF samples, carrying out surveillance, and conducting outreach.

The Plant Certification Section oversees nursery, greenhouse, and plant dealer certification programs. Plant inspectors work with industries to ensure the continued movement of healthy, pest-free plant material in interstate and international trade, and monitor the phytosanitary condition of plant material coming into the state.