Phenology, impact, and rearing of Lycorma delicatula (White) (Spotted Lanternfly) in Virginia
Dechaine, Andrew C.
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The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), is a new invasive insect from Asia that is currently spreading in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, where it has become a pest of economic concern for many industries in their invaded range. The purpose of this research was to document L. delicatula phenology in Virginia, their feeding impact to trees, and to test a rearing protocol in quarantine laboratory conditions. First, using field plots and weekly observational surveys, L. delicatula phenology was documented in 2019 and 2020 in Winchester, Virginia. I showed that L. delicatula were active from late April into November for each sampling year, and that the timing of life stage events varied only slightly between years. I also calculated cumulative average growing degree days for each life stage event using a lower developmental threshold of 10°C. Additionally, I confirmed that the host range of L. delicatula narrows as they progress through development. These results will help growers and land managers develop integrated pest management plans targeting L. delicatula. Second, dendrochronological methods were used to quantify L. delicatula feeding injury to Ailanthus altissima (Miller) Swingle (Sapindales: Simaroubaceae), Juglans nigra L. (Fagales: Juglandaceae), and Liriodendron tulipifera L. (Magnoliales: Magnoliaceae). Two sites in Pennsylvania that have experienced high populations and heavy feeding pressure from L. delicatula since 2016 were used to collect tree cores for analysis. I found evidence suggesting L. delicatula is capable of reducing the growth of A. altissima, but did not find the same evidence in the wood of the other tree species tested. Additionally, I found evidence that systemic insecticide treatments may reduce or prevent damage to A. altissima fed on by L. delicatula. Additional dendrochronological studies on the damage inflicted by L. delicatula feeding could shed light on the long-term impact of this new invasive tree pest. Lastly, a protocol for rearing L. delicatula was tested inside Virginia Tech's Insect Quarantine Laboratory. Three different cuttings of A. altissima (apical meristems, epicormic shoots, and field collected foliage) were tested to determine the best food source for L. delicatula in quarantine laboratory conditions. Overall, I did not find a significant difference between food treatments, however a greater proportion of third instars developed into fourth instars in the apical meristem treatment. I suggest future L. delicatula rearing research include the use of potted plants and/or multiple species. Though I had low success in rearing adult L. delicatula to produce egg masses, this method may prove useful for rearing early instars from eggs or sustaining field collected specimens for short durations. Research expanding our knowledge of L. delicatula will help us reach our goal of more effectively managing this pest species in the future.
General Audience Abstract
The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), is a new invasive pest species impacting the eastern and northeastern regions of the United States. This insect uses its straw-like mouth parts to feed on the sap of many different plants including fruit trees, grapes, and several important ornamental and timber trees. Though they do not bite or sting, feeding can result in wilting, the growth of sooty mold, and sometimes plant mortality, making them an economic and nuisance pest in their invaded range. This research primarily focused on studying the timing of the spotted lanternfly's life cycle, feeding impact to trees, and a method for raising them in the laboratory for research purposes. The life-cycle of the spotted lanternfly was documented over two growing seasons in Winchester, VA and the timing of each life stage was shown to be similar between years. Additionally, it was confirmed that the spotted lanternfly feeds on fewer host species as it develops into an adult. Tree-ring analysis was used to identify spotted lanternfly feeding injury to tree-of-heaven, black walnut, and tulip poplar. I found evidence suggesting spotted lanternfly feeding can cause reduced growth in tree-of-heaven, but did not find similar evidence in the other species tested. A laboratory colony of spotted lanternflies would prove beneficial for additional research on this insect. I tested three different types of branches cut from the tree-of-heaven to identify the best food source for spotted lanternfly in laboratory conditions. The findings of this research will help develop pest management strategies to reduce the impact of this new pest in the US.
- Masters Theses