Invasive Insect Species

box tree moth

One issue that is arising in Ohio and North America are invasive species of insects. A number of new invasive insects (and some old ones) are causing problems including the Spotted Lantern Fly, Asian long-horned beetle, the Box tree moth. Older invasive insect species like the gypsy moth (Spongy Moth) and emerald ash borer are still around. Due to expanded world-wide trade, many of these insect species come from Asia and have few natural predators but they can cause economic damage to crops, various plants, and trees. 

The Spotted Lantern Fly is an invasive plant hopper native to China and it’s preferred host is another invasive plant called the Tree of Heaven. Tree of heaven is a weedy invasive tree that looks like black walnut. Spotted lanternfly also feeds on over 100 species of plants including grapes, fruit trees, ornamentals and timber. Spotted Lantern fly damage includes oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling, and then dieback and it also promotes sooty mold (a fungus) which attracts other diseases. It’s been found in Ohio (Toledo, Columbus), Indiana, Michigan and probably came from Pennsylvania. 

Spotted Lantern fly is a planthopper, with the adults being 1 inch long and 0.5 inch wide when resting. Its front wings are gray with black spots and outlined wing tips. The back wings are red and black in color and contain a white band. Its abdomen is mostly black, with yellow bands between segments. After eggs hatch, the immature stage has white spots on a black body, and then develop red patches as they mature. The spotted lantern fly has only one generation with 30-50 eggs being laid in September through October. They hatch in the spring and go though about 4 development stages instars and become adults in late July. The nymphs feed and suck the sap out of many plants causing the most damage. 

Another invasive insect pests is the Asian long-horn beetle (ALHB). They mainly infect maple, elm, willow and popular trees but may also infect apple, pear, stoned fruits (peaches, cherries), roses, and black locust trees. ALHB adults are large insects about 0.67 to 1.54 inches in length and antennae which can be as long as 1.6 inches, shiny black bodies with white spots. Adults lay eggs (40 to 60 per adult female) singularly in the cambium region under the bark and take 1-2 years to develop. A single larva can consume up to 60 cubic inches of cambium bark. 

The box tree moth (BTM) infect boxwood trees and ornamentals. Most adult box tree moths are white with a brown border. Adult box tree moths can survive for about a month and may fly 4–6 miles. Adults lay 5-20 eggs in groups that look like overlapped shingles. The caterpillar that develops from the eggs does most damage to leaves. Caterpillars are green and yellow with white, yellow, and black stripes and black spots and take about 14 days to mature. The next stage is the pupae which are found in webbing and damaged leaves. Young pupae are green with brown stripes when pupae are ready to turn into moths. Pupae take about 14 days to develop. 

Another older invasive species still around is the emerald ash borer (EAB) which has killed 10’s of millions of ash trees in the USA. Some dead ash trees are still standing, but most are falling down. The emerald ash borer (EAB), is a green jewel beetle native to north-eastern Asia that feeds on ash species. Females lay eggs in bark crevices on ash trees, and larvae feed underneath the bark of ash trees to emerge as adults in one to two years. 

Gypsy moths or the new name is Spongy moth are still around and lay hundreds of eggs in several masses on a tree. The caterpillar stage does massive damage to many of our native trees by eating up to 1 square foot of tree leaves per day per larva. Male moths are brown and fly during the day, like butterflies; females are cream and black and don't fly far from where they hatched from the cocoon. Males come to them as they sit where they have hatched out, and they lay eggs in that same spot. Spongy Moth caterpillars have two distinct markings: two rows of blue bumps in the front and two rows of red bumps in the back. Spongy moth caterpillars are tiny, “furry looking” and they have distinct bumps or collars around the head. 

If you see or suspect you may have an invasive species on your property, please call the Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E Main St., Bldg 23, Reynoldsburg OH 43068. Phone: 614-728-6400 or Email: