You've probably seen the campaign that Michigan, and other states, have going almost every year around this time. Billboards along the highway that say, "If you see this insect, kill it on sight," with a picture of the notorious spotted lanternfly. (At least, the message said something LIKE that.)

Well, this year, it seemed like the campaign had been working, because I hadn't seen many of these beautiful, yet intrusive insects anywhere near me or where i work and live. But alas, the time was just fleeting, and once again, they're back in Michigan, and we must once again do away with them.

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The Spotted Lanternfly isn't native to Michigan. In fact, it's not even native to the U.S. It's originally an Asian insect that found its way over here on produce sometime in the early 21st century.

Since its arrival, it has grown in population exponentially across the northeast and MIdwest especially. Typically, their food of choice is another invasive species - tree-of-heaven. But they will eat a number of other plant species, which DOES include some of our native ones here in Michigan.

They will thrive on black walnut, willow, red maple, sumac, and river birch trees, but also love to eat grapevines, which is a huge detriment to the wine industry in west Michigan, and Up North.

What's worse, though, isn't the fact that they just eat the plants, it's what they produce while eating it. They will make a sticky substance nicknamed "honeydew," that collects on the ground around the plants they feast on, which then promotes the growth of molds that can otherwise discolor, or even kill surrounding plants.

Spotted Lanternfly in Michigan

A New Sighting in Michigan.

The Spotted Lanternfly was first seen in Michigan, near Pontiac, in 2022. Since then, there have been occasional one-off appearances against a windshield, or at a truck stop. But just this past week, a second sighting was confirmed in Lambertville, two years after the original sighting.

"The infestation was detected through spotted lanternfly monitoring traps deployed by Michigan State University as part of collaborative survey initiatives with MSU, MDARD (Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development), and the USDA. This work is a critical component of our ongoing efforts to identify and limit the spread of spotted lanternfly in Michigan."

That was from Steve Carlson, who is MDARD's Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. He added that they are in the early stages of assessing the stage of their response, and gathering data from their traps that will determine an appropriate response.

Michigan Spotted Lanternfly

What can you do to help?

There are ways to help keep the population of the Spotted Lanternfly down.

  • Remove and Destroy Pests: Officials ask you to crush nymphs and adult Spotted Lanternflies when you see them. Or, if you happen to be driving 60 mph on the highway, hit them with your windshield. If you find egg clusters, you can also scrape them into a plastic bag containing hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them
  • Check your Vehicles: Before going anywhere, make sure no Spotted Lanternfly has laid eggs, or attached itself to your vehicle. This will help contain any potential spread further out from where they already are. Also, and this goes without saying, you should probably leave your windows and doors closed when parking your vehicles so they don't get in and lay eggs that way, too.
  • Share Your Findings: If you do happen to find a Spotted Lanternfly, or its nymphs and eggs, document it. Take photos, and send them to the Michigan DNR with your location so they can properly log where the insect is spreading.

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Gallery Credit: Michigan.Gov

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