The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), is actually not a fly, but a plant-hopper. It is also known as “spot clothing wax cicada” or “Chinese blistering cicada”. These insects are called lanternflies because of the inflated front part of their head that was thought to be luminous.
This species is native to China, India, Japan, and Vietnam. But last year it has been detected for the first time in the United States in Pennsylvania.
The spotted lanternfly is considered a pest as it feeds on a variety of host plants including fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, and vines. More than 70 species of hosts are attacked by this pest. Some of their favorite tree species actually contain high concentrations of toxic alkaloids. Choosing plants with toxic metabolites for foraging and more importantly for egg laying is thought to be a mechanism of defense to protect from natural enemies. Spotted lanternfly is considered poisonous and as such used in traditional Chinese medicine.