The spotted lanternfly is a pest species native to Asia and was recently introduced to Pennsylvania. It is a leaf hopping species that can fly short distances, but its primary means of locomotion is hopping or jumping from plant to plant. Spotted lanternflies attack a wide range of species including fruit trees, grapes vines, and other agricultural resources. The species feeds by inserting its strong specialized mouthparts into the phloem of the plant. Here they "suck" the sap out of the plant, depriving it of much-needed resources. Prolonged feeding by these pests can stunt or hinder the growth of the tree and can eventually lead to death.
What to look for
The Spotted lanternfly has several life stages that present with a variety of different appearances. The nymph or instar phases start out as small black insects with white dots across the body. As they mature, they grow in size and eventually turn black an red with white dots. Finally, they grow into their adult form with a light gray outer wing and a black and red inner wing giving an eyespot appearance. While the pest feeds they produce a substance called honeydew, which is a sap like secretion that attracts other insects such as ants, bees, and wasps and creating fungal mats around the base of the tree.
The egg masses are very well camouflaged against tree bark and can contain approximately 50-80 per mass. They will lay their egg masses on their host plants as well as on almost any flat surface (including stone, bricks, and cars if they remain stationary long enough). Both the egg masses and the insects themselves have a strong grip which means they can be unknowingly transported from place to place easily. You can report a sighting of spotted lanternflies by following this link to the Penn State Extension.