Spring brings much anticipation. Warmer temperatures bring a show of spring wildflowers, blooms of spring flowering trees and shrubs, and insects activity- including the hatch of spotted lanternfly (SLF) nymphs where overwintering egg masses where present.
The initial egg hatch of spotted lanternly (Lycorma delicatula) is predicted on the Ohio State University Plant Phenology website (https://weather.cfaes.osu.edu/gdd/) to occur at 200 growing degree days (GDD). Peak nymph emergence is predicted at 355 GDD.
So what does this mean? If you are in Ohio, and there are SLF egg masses, you could certainly begin seeing SLF nymphs. As we move from April into May, we are encouraging Ohioans to be on the look-out for SLF nymphs. With that said, you should continue looking for egg masses too, as hatch will occur over a period of time, and even after the nymphs emerage from their overwintering mass remmants can remain.
The first SLF nymphs to make their appearance are very small, approximately 1/4" long. They are black with white spots, and many people say they remind them of ticks. The second and third instar nymphs are also black with white spots. Fourth instar nymphs are red, black and white. Each instar gets a little bit larger, maxing out at about 1/2".
It is important to remember that SLF has a wide host range, especially as nymphs. To learn more about their host preferences, check out information published by Penn State Extension at: https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly-management-for-landscape-professionals
In addition to listing the favorite species SLF has been observed feeding on, they also have a table that denotes seasonal preferences as well. This resource can help guide you to know what plants to monitor when. Two species that are favorites at both the nymph and adult stages are tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and wild and cultivate grapevines (Vitis spp.).
If you see an insect that you suspect is SLF, we have a slogan - If You Detect It, Collect It.
That collection could be the actual specimen itself, or a clear photographic image. Reports can be made to the Ohio Department of Agiculture (ODA). Check out their website at: https://agri.ohio.gov/divisions/plant-health/invasive-pests/invasive-insects/slf
You can also make a report using the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) App, or contacting your local Extension Office.
Thank you for helping us spot the spot!