Have you spotted this lantern fly? Pest forecast highlights regional risks for Australian production industries

A new plant pest in the United States has impacted farmers and residents as pest populations continue to spread throughout the eastern states.

Recently a project team led by Cesar Australia has conducted a study investigating this emerging pest named the Spotted Lantern Fly, Lycorma delicatula.

Published in Biological Invasions, ‘Mapping the life-history, development, and survival of spotted lantern fly in occupied an uninvaded ranges’ includes forecast modelling that highlights the growing concern an invasion poses to Australia.

Reason for concern

The spotted lantern fly is a sap feeding pest native to southeast Asia. Despite its bright and colourful appearance, this species has become a global biosecurity threat following invasions into South Korea, Japan, and the United States in the last two decades.

It has potential to wreak environmental havoc, attacking over 181 plant species, particularly woody hosts, such as grapes, walnut, apple, stone fruit and many ornamental species.

Previous forecasting studies have demonstrated high potential for further spread, including into Australia.

What’s happening here

In response to this threat, the Australian Plant Biosecurity Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment funded this project to improve knowledge around its biology and promote industry awareness of this threat.

One key output was a forecast of its likely behaviour if it were to establish in Australia. Cesar Australia Senior Research Scientist and lead author of the study, Dr James Maino, says:

“Our study used overseas data on laboratory populations of spotted lantern fly coupled with Australian climatic data to predict how populations might be expected to develop across Australia.”

“Our predictions of its potential survival in Australia suggest that the periods of pest activity will also overlap with vulnerable periods across a range of plant production industries. For example, there is significant table grape production in southern Australia from January to March, which would correspond with spotted lantern fly entering its later life stages with higher feeding pressure and damage potential.”

Looking ahead

While this study confirms that spotted lantern fly would likely cause large impacts if it were to spread to Australia, it has also supported improved preparedness through better understanding its likely behaviour.

Findings from this study can help to refine biosecurity measures by targeting the most visible life-stages of spotted lantern fly.

Dr Maino says, “This pest is quite colourful and spotted, like its name suggest, and is often reported by citizens. However, it only develops these bright colours as it approaches maturity. Now we know when that is, and when we might expect to see them, and can target surveillance accordingly.”

Figure 1. Monthly development and mortality of Lycorma delicatula in Australia (southern hemisphere) where unique colors represent unique life stages and transparency denotes the predicted survival at the end of each month based on the total hazard accumulated from 1 July. 

More information

Access the full paper online

If you have questions or want to find out more information, you can contact the lead author Dr James Maino via email on loading...


The project is funded by the Australian Plant Biosecurity Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and is led by Cesar Australia. Project collaborators are Agriculture Victoria, NSW DPI, Plant Health Australia, and Greenlife Industry Australia.

Cover image: An adult spotted lanternfly (Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, CC BY 3.0 US

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