STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Asian insect known to kill native plants found in Indiana

Earlier this summer, a photograph of a spotted lanternfly taken in southern Indiana set off a huge effort to eradicate the insect that’s on the federally regulated invasive species list.

Posted: Sep 19, 2021 7:56 AM

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Earlier this summer, a photograph of a spotted lanternfly taken in southern Indiana set off a huge effort to eradicate the insect that’s on the federally regulated invasive species list.

The Vevay man’s picture was the first sighting of a spotted lanternfly in Indiana and was the farthest west the Asian insect has been found.

People with the state’s Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited the site in Switzerland County to determine the extent of the infestation. A number of the insects were found in nearby woodlot, and they were all destroyed.

Efforts to figure out how the spotted lanternflies found their way to the Indiana woodlot continue, according to Megan Abraham, director of the Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

“We suspect someone brought it in accidentally,” she said. “They typically swarm this time of year and lay their eggs.”

The eggs look like a patch of mud smeared on a tree or post or metal part of a railroad car, which is one of the ways the insect has spread in the United States since it was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.

The Indiana location wasn’t anywhere near a railroad line. Oftentimes adult spotted lanternflies will feed on trees that overhang railroad yards, and when they’re full, they will drop out of the leaves to land on the nearest vertical surface. If they land on railroad cars, that’s where they lay their eggs, which are then transported across the country, spreading an insect that’s known for killing grapevines, fruit trees and other agricultural crops and trees.

“It’s following the train line,” Abraham said of the insect. “They are heading out this way.”

The spotted lanternfly prefers tree of heaven, which is an invasive tree species from Asia that’s found in Indiana and most other states. But the insects don’t do much damage to those trees, so they survive and the lanternflies move on to native trees and other plants that they do kill.

When lanternflies congregate on grapevines, it changes the pH of the grapes so they are no longer viable for making wine, Abraham said. The insects often congregate to feed on the sap of plants. While feeding they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which falls to the ground and is a breeding ground for sooty mold. That mold can kill trees and other plants, Abraham said.

This Sept. 19, 2019, photo, shows a spotted lanternfly at a vineyard in Kutztown, Pa. Pennsylvania has started using insecticide on spotted lanternflies, a new strategy that state officials are using in an attempt to slow the spread of the invasive pest. Crews using backpack sprayers and truck-mounted spray equipment are spraying the bugs along railways, interstates and other transportation rights-of-way, the state agriculture department said earlier this year. Spotted lanternflies were spotted this summer in southern Indiana as well, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources urges Hoosiers to report any sightings.

Grape growers and farmers are alarmed whenever a spotted lanternfly is seen in their area. Since the insect has no natural predators in the United States, it’s feared it could become a serious agricultural pest across the country.

The spotted lanternfly already has been found on the eastern edge of Ohio near West Virginia, Abraham said.

She is hopeful the spotted lanternfly hasn’t yet made its way into any other part of Indiana and that all the ones in Switzerland County have been eradicated.

“The best part of the story is that we wouldn’t know about that find without him looking out at that walnut tree and then sending a picture to us,” Abraham said of the Vevay man. “We ended up confirming it was in his area and we can do something about it before it spreads.”

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is asking anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly to contact them at 866-NO EXOTIC (866-663-9684) or to email DEPP@dnr.in.gov.

West Lafayette
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 56°
Kokomo
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 57°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
Fowler
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 56°
Williamsport
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Delphi
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 52°
Monticello
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 52°
Logansport
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 55°
More showers, isolated thunder, then nice, Fall-like weekend...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 994079

Reported Deaths: 16225
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1340942097
Lake657221150
Allen57000791
Hamilton45877460
St. Joseph43856606
Elkhart35467502
Vanderburgh31922473
Tippecanoe27644256
Johnson24778440
Hendricks23603353
Porter22676362
Madison18488404
Clark18336248
Vigo17227300
Monroe15089197
LaPorte14957249
Delaware14916255
Howard14547286
Kosciusko12115147
Hancock11562175
Bartholomew11413179
Warrick11205188
Floyd10966214
Wayne10812247
Grant9850216
Morgan9346176
Boone8793115
Dubois8194129
Dearborn813092
Henry8098149
Noble7911105
Marshall7767134
Cass7451119
Lawrence7368168
Shelby7085114
Jackson689887
Gibson6468113
Harrison639691
Huntington628799
Knox6262105
DeKalb621796
Montgomery6166109
Miami584894
Putnam572177
Clinton564571
Whitley556355
Steuben548772
Wabash5229101
Jasper517675
Jefferson504095
Ripley491684
Adams471373
Daviess4586112
Scott432968
Greene420496
Wells418087
Clay417060
White413461
Decatur4104101
Fayette401286
Jennings382060
Posey373643
Washington351048
LaGrange350978
Randolph339399
Spencer335842
Fountain331058
Sullivan326352
Starke309968
Owen309369
Fulton303166
Orange289762
Jay277144
Perry263552
Franklin261642
Carroll257632
Rush256732
Vermillion253554
Parke229126
Pike227143
Tipton224959
Blackford187040
Pulaski180354
Crawford157522
Newton155148
Benton150117
Brown142747
Martin137119
Switzerland133411
Warren119916
Union106315
Ohio83912
Unassigned0531

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events