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Two invasive species identified as new threats to Michigan

Spotted lanternfly, a leaf-hopper native to China and India, and Japanese chaff flower, a plant from East Asia, have been added to the state’s invasive species watch list due to the threats they pose to agriculture and the environment.

Already found in Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia, spotted lanternfly is spreading through eastern Pennsylvania. Nymphs (immature insects) and adults suck sap from stems and leaves of more than 70 plants and crops including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and other hardwood trees.

Japanese chaff flower displaces native plants by forming large, dense stands in floodplains, forested wetlands and disturbed habitat. It currently is found along the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers, reaching counties in nine states including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

Spotted lanternfly nymphs are wingless and beetle-like, with black and white spots, developing red patches as they mature. Adults are roughly 1 inch long. Their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots. Open wings reveal a yellow and black abdomen and hind wings that are bright red with black spots transitioning to black and white bands at the edge.

Though spotted lanternflies cannot fly long distances, they lay eggs on nearly any smooth surface, including cars, trailers and outdoor furniture. Freshly laid eggs have a gray, waxy, putty-like coating, while hatched eggs look like rows of brownish, seed-like deposits.

“If you’re visiting areas known to be infested with spotted lanternfly, just be sure to thoroughly inspect vehicles or anything left outside before returning to Michigan,” said Joanne Foreman, invasive species communications coordinator with the DNR.

Japanese chaff flower grows up to 6 feet tall, with opposite, simple leaves and a bottle brush-shaped green flower with no petals. Deer heavily browse this plant, and seeds spread by attaching to animals and clothing.

“Spotted lanternfly and Japanese chaff flower aren’t known to be in Michigan, but because they’re confirmed in nearby states and because of the potential damage they can cause, early detection is vital,” Foreman said.

For more information on identifying invasive species or to report sightings of spotted lanternfly or Japanese chaff flower, visit michigan.gov/invasives or contact Joanne Foreman, 517-284-5814.