This is an adult spotted lanternfly that was sent to Howard Russell, an entomologist at Michigan State University in Lansing. Spotted lanternflies, native to southeast Asia, are making their way across the East Coast, feasting on the insides of trees, carpeting infested forests in sticky secretions and threatening multi-million dollar agriculture and forestry industries. Lansing State Journal/MATTHEW DAE SMITH
This is an adult spotted lanternfly that was sent to Howard Russell, an entomologist at Michigan State University in Lansing. Spotted lanternflies, native to southeast Asia, are making their way across the East Coast, feasting on the insides of trees, carpeting infested forests in sticky secretions and threatening multi-million dollar agriculture and forestry industries. Lansing State Journal/MATTHEW DAE SMITH
Southwestern Michigan is serving up a menu of the most delectable treats for the nation’s newest invasive species — the spotted lanternfly.

About an inch long, adult lanternflies have a somewhat exotic look with gray outer wings with dark spots and splashy hind wings that are red, white and black. It’s a bug that stands out for its size and appearance.

But it’s also potentially very destructive as it enjoys feasting on grapes, hops, stone fruits, apples and other trees and plants that are in great abundance in the Michigan fruit belt extending from Berrien County in the south to Traverse City and beyond in the north.

The threat isn’t being taken lightly.

Officials in Michigan, as well as Indiana, are trying to get the word out about the lanternfly as it could easily cause many millions of dollars in damage if left unchecked.

Bulletins and warnings have been issued; the bug has been discussed at agricultural meetings.

A recent post from Purdue University called the lanternfly an “extremely serious pest of a wide range of woody plants” and urged anyone spotting one to immediately contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

With even more at stake in the fruit belt, Michigan officials have been sounding the alarm for quite some time.

Indigenous to China, India and Vietnam, the spotted lanternfly was first detected in southeastern Pennsylvania in September 2014 and has since spread to a few other nearby states.

Bug experts in Pennsylvania have been at the epicenter of the battle against spotted lanternflies, which feed on plant sap and excrete a sticky, syrupy substance referred to as honeydew.

The feeding action weakens the tree or other woody plant and makes it susceptible to further invaders and diseases. And the honeydew “creates this black sooty mold and ruins the fruit,” said Joanne Foreman, invasive species communications coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
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