The Outside Story: Spotted Lanternfly Invasion | Weekend magazine


In September 2021, a boy’s blue ribbon winning 4-H project at the Kansas State Fair made national news. The exhibit included a brightly speckled moth-like insect that immediately caught the attention of entomologists. The insect, which the boy had found on his porch, was a mottled lantern (Lycorma delicatula). Native to Asia, this species was discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 and is considered a harmful invasive species in the United States, causing great stress to plants, gardeners, foresters and farmers. Although firmly established in the northeastern United States, the 4-H exhibit was the first time entomologists noted the existence of the Mottled Lantern this far west.

Mottled lanterns belong to the mostly tropical family Fulgoridae. The common name comes from a false belief that a projection of the head of many species glowed in the dark, a myth propagated through European scientific literature during the 1700s.


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