Tree of Heaven Pests

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)

A pest of tree of heaven that is of primary economic concern to people in the United States - as it is destructive to the community, as well as many plants in agricultural, landscape, and forestry settings - is spotted lanternfly (SLF). Spotted lanternfly is a planthopper in the the order hemiptera whereby it feeds by specialized mouthparts that is used to suck out sap from trunks, twigs, and even leaves. It feeds on over 70+ different species of plants in the U.S.  Eggs are laid on tree of heaven and practically anything else close to feeding sites, including bark, rusted or new metal, wood, plastic, and even glass. With this in mind, SLF can spread quickly by hitchhiking on common items. Trains, cars, and boats are able to cary these insects and their egg masses across many miles.  For more information visit the Moodle course designed for spotted lanternfly

First three instars are black with white spots (~1/8”~3/4” long)

4th instar acquires the red pigment (~3/4" long)

Adults have a pinkish tint, are tent shaped, and approximately 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide at rest.
About 2/3 of the length of the forewings are black spotted; the posterior end of forewings show a brick pattern.
Yellow, lantern-like abdomen that becomes bloated if it is a gravid female.
Bulbous orange antennae segment with needle-like tip.

Moth-like when wings are spread with a wingspan of about 2 inches. About half of the length of the hindwings are red with black spots. 

Egg masses are usually covered by a waxy, protective substance that commonly changes from white, to pink, to brown over a couple weeks.

Eggs are laid in 1 inch long segmented rows; egg masses may contain up to about 60 eggs. 

Winter causes coverings to crack. 

Photo by Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University.

The Ailanthus webworm (Atteva aurea) 

Also sometimes known as Atteva punctella, it is a moth species thought to be native to Florida and down south into the tropics. But has since spread to much of the North Eastern United States.

Photo by Susan Ellis,

An Ailanthus webworm caterpillar


Photo by Stephen Schueman, Maryland Biodiversity. Size change. Project.

Ailanthus webworm webbing and skeletonized Ailanthus altissima leaves

Photo by Fernando Lopez Anido, Rosario National University. size change. Wikipedia.

The Ailanthus silkmoth (Samia cynthia)

Spotty distribution, but occurs in the Eastern United States - brought from Asia for silk production. Caterpillars feed directly on leaves. Eggs almost exclusively laid on tree of heaven.

Different instars or caterpillars on leaf

Photo by Eric Gofreed, BugGuide

Samia cynthia adult female.  Males moths are very similar. 

Photo by Shawn Hanrahan, Texas A&M University

Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys)

Brown Marmorated Stinkbug is an invasive insect pest that has been found feeding on tree of heaven in high populations. 

Adult Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (BSMB)

Photo by David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ, 

Egg cases and newly hatched nymphs of BMSB

 Photo by David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ, 

Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2019, 1:34 PM