If You Spot This Insect in Arizona, Destroy It Immediately!
In Arizona, our agricultural industries stand up to a lot in our arid deserts, but in spite of the environmental challenges, the industry if strong.
Our wine industry alone brings millions of dollars in product and tourist revenue to our state.
According to the Arizona Wine Growers Association, "As of July 2021, there were 118 licenses for “farm wineries,” defined as wineries that produce between 200 and 40,000 gallons of wine per year."
This brings a revenue of around $45 million to the state annually. And that doesn't even count the wine tourism dollars, which comes in around $33.7 million.
Agriculture in Arizona is part of the delicate ecosystem of our desert. Which is why red flags are suddenly going up over the possibility of an invasive species of insect may have Arizona in its crosshairs.
I once heard someone say that no species of plant of animal should never be considered invasive; that it's just trying to survive.
That sounds like a nice sentiment, but there are much bigger problems with a species of plant or animal that doesn't belong here.
National Geographic defines the issue: "An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area." It can cause great economic and environmental harm to the new area because there are often no natural predators of defenses against the invader."
Worries Over the Spotted Lanternfly
This new, invasive species may be on its way to Arizona. The USDA reports, "The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is native to China and was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014."
The insect isn't in Arizona - yet. It's already been identified in 14 states in the Northeastern United States. The spotted lanternfly prefers to inhabit the tree of heaven, an invasive tree that is already established in some parts of Arizona.
How Could It Get to Arizona?
Spotted lanternflies are invasive and can spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses, which is how it probably made its way from China to the US.
Juvenile spotted lanternflies, known as nymphs, and adults also feed on a wide range of crops and plants, including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees.
The spotted lanternfly has four life stages: egg, nymph, adult, and egg mass. The eggs are brownish-gray and waxy, and are laid on tree trunks, rocks, and other objects.
Identify the Spotted Lanternfly
The nymphs are black with white spots, then red with white spots, and are about a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch long.
The adults are about an inch long and have pinkish-tan wings with black spots. When they fly, they reveal bright red hindwings with black spots.
Destroy the Lanternfly Immediately!
Once lanternflies have been reported, they must be destroyed immediately. Lanternflies.org advises two ways to get rid of them before they spread.
OPTION 1: Crushing
- Crush the eggs by dragging a credit card, putty knife, or another hard implement across the egg mass.
- The eggs will pop as you press down. You may see liquid released as the eggs underneath burst.
OPTION 2: Scraping
- Fill a plastic baggie with a few ounces of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
- Scrape the eggs off the surface with a credit card, putty knife, or butter knife into the bag.
- Make sure the eggs come in contact with the alcohol/sanitizer. The eggs must remain in the alcohol solution.
- Take the bag, place it in another bag, and discard it.