HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – An insect native to China that first showed up in the United States in 2014 has made its way to northeast Indiana. The spotted lanternfly is known to feed on fruit trees, ornamental trees and other varieties of trees. It also can taint honey created by beekeepers.
According to Purdue University, the spotted lanterfly has migrated to northern Indiana and was found in Huntington County in July. The brightly colored insect was first discovered in Switzerland County in extreme southern Indiana in July of last year.
Cliff Sadof, professor of entomology and Purdue Extension fellow, said this migration poses a significant agricultural risk to wine grape growers and honeybee and walnut tree producers. While the spotted lanternfly feeds on over 100 different types of plants, Sadof said, the insect can reproduce only when feeding on walnut trees, grape vines or tree of heaven
Jordan Marshall, professor of plant biology at Purdue Fort Wayne said that he was surprised to see the bug so far north.
“That jump into Huntington County is a big step because the reports I was aware of were in Switzerland County,” said Marshall.
Marshall noted that the bug has quite the sweet tooth and feeds on the aforementioned walnut trees, grape vines or tree of heaven, but also other fruit trees.
“They pierce into the plant, into the phloem which are the cells that transport moving sugar. So they’re trying to get that sugar,” said Marshall.
Though the full-grown adults have beautiful coloring and patterns, spotted lanternfly eggs resemble a splash of mud, making them easy to overlook on large vehicles traveling from state to state. Homeowners should, therefore, also remain vigilant in keeping populations in check, Sadof said, as the honeydew secretions from the insect are frequently spread across homes and structures and are extremely difficult to remove when dried.
Overall Sadof said that he’s not overly worried about the immediate threat of the lanternfly in northeast Indiana, especially those worried about the bug damaging their crops and their wine profits.
“Grape growers should not panic at this point in time. There is absolutely no reason for them to go out right now and spray their vineyards.” said Sadof.
Sadof does however recommend reporting if spotted lanternfly are discovered.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources asks all residents to search for and report spotted lanternfly sightings. Anyone spotting the insect should photograph it and send the image and location to DEPP@dnr.in.gov, use Purdue’s website, or call 1-866-No-Exotic.