COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Several new infestations of an invasive bug have been confirmed across Ohio this month, including in Columbus.
The invasive bug is called the spotted lanternfly, and it is a pest of grapes, hops, apples and multiple other plant species.
As a result of the confirmed infestations, multiple Ohio counties were added to the list of spotted lanternfly-regulated areas. In regulated areas, spotted lanternfly infestations have been confirmed and inspections have increased.
The counties in the regulated areas include Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Mahoning and Muskingum.
Ohio Department of Agriculture Inspection Manager Jonathan Shields said the spotted lanternfly feeds on agriculturally important crops.
“As it’s drinking all that sap, it’s generating waste,” Shields said. “[That waste] promotes the growth of sooty mold. And when the mold gets on those fruits, they’re not usable for consumption.”
An invasive tree, known as the tree of heaven, is the primary host for the bugs. While Shields said personal gardens are not usually the primary host for spotted lanternflies, the pests are not picky.
“There are 100 or more types of plants that it’s been seen to feed on,” Shields said.
Shields encourages the public to stomp on the bug if they see it, but first — snap a photo.
“We really like to receive those reports from folks,” Shields said. “If they can snap a picture quickly, and then stomp on it, then go on our website and report it, that’s the best case scenario.”
From late summer into early fall, spotted lanternflies are in their adult stage. They are approximately one inch, with black bodies and colorful red and gray wings with black markings. They lay eggs, which look like small gray masses with a waxy covering, beginning in October.
If you see a spotted lanternfly or damage caused by it, the Ohio Department of Agriculture asks you to fill out this form.
The spotted lantern fly is native to Asia and was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014, likely being brought to the U.S. by imported goods. The first confirmation of the bug in Ohio was in Mingo Junction in 2020.