Project Leader

Dr Olivia Reynolds, cesar


The planthopper, spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula: SLF), is an emerging pest of agricultural, urban and environmental biosecurity concern. The pest attacks over 70 plant species, primarily woody hosts, causing direct damage by feeding on plants using sucking mouthparts causing sap to exude, and indirectly through the development of sooty mould and the attraction of nuisance pests such as ants and wasps. Recently, the SLF spread from its native range of China, Vietnam & India and has invaded South Korea (Bourgoin 2014), and Japan (Kim et al. 2013) where it impacts grapes, fruit trees, and ornamental trees and shrubs. More recently the pest has invaded the northeastern United States of America (Barringer et al. 2015, Dara et al. 2015), and is considered a significant ecological and economic threat to ornamental plants, forests and agriculture (Cooperband et al. 2018; Urban et al. 2018). In NSW, Australia alone, SLF has been identified as a potential host of grapes, apples, peaches, plums, walnuts, blueberries, cherries, basil, apricot, and nectarines and is considered a severe threat to the $1.79 billion NSW horticulture industry (; accessed 19 August 2020). However, there is currently no known work occurring on this pest within Australia. The ‘Tree of Heaven’ (Ailanthus altissima) (Mill.) Swingle (Simaroubaceae), is the SLF’s preferred host plant (Barringer et al. 2015, Dara et al. 2015). Tree of Heaven is widely naturalised throughout the coastal and sub-coastal regions of south eastern Australia and is regarded as an environmental weed in NSW, ACT, Vic, SA, Qld and WA. It is considered invasive and readily escapes cultivation into disturbed woods, roadsides, vacant areas, and railroad areas. The potential for SLF to establish quickly in Australia is likely to depend on climate and, in part, on the presence of the ‘Tree of Heaven’ and other key woody hosts. Further, given Tree of Heaven’s presence in urban environments, including botanical gardens, human spread of the insect is of concern.


  • Bourgoin T. 2014. FLOW (Fulgoromorpha Lists on The Web): a world knowledge base dedicated to Fulgoromorpha. Version 8, updated 2014-11-10.
  • Cooperband, M. F., Mack, R., & Spichiger, S.-E. (2018). Chipping to destroy egg masses of the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae). Journal of Insect Science, 18(3), 7.
  • Dara, S. K., L. Barringer, and S. P. Arthurs. 2015. Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae): a new invasive pest in the United States. J. Integ. Pest Manage. 6: 1–6.
  • Kim, H., M. Kim, D. H. Kwon, S. Park, Y. Lee, J. Huang, S. Kai, H. Lee, K. Hong, Y. Jang, and S. Lee. 2013. Molecular comparison of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) isolates in Korea, China, and Japan. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology 16: 503-506.
  • Urban JM, Smyers E, Barringer L, & Spichiger SE. (2018). Spotted Lanternfly Lycorma delicatula (White, 1845) (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Fulgoridae). National Pest Alert.; accessed 19 August 2020)

Objectives and Impact

The Foundation, cesar and the Australian Government are co-investing on this environmental biosecurity project to address preparedness surrounding the SLF.


  1. Review the literature (grey & published) on SLF biology, possible invasive pathways (brief) and management.
  2. Identify the potential distribution of SLF in Australia using available biological information on climatic tolerances (population growth rates, critical thermal maximum and minimum temperatures, and moisture response) of SLF. These biological responses will be projected across space using gridded Australian climatic data to identify regions of high and low suitability in a map of SLF population establishment potential.
  3. Obtain from key jurisdictions, plantings of the preferred host for egg-laying adults: Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima); which can be used as a sentinel to monitor this pest.
  4. Compile a list of the reported host plants and map those species which occur in Australia with their known distribution.
  5. Communication material developed and distributed to key environmental stakeholders.


Delivery of this work will culminate in five key outputs:

Output 1: Literature review of SLF biology, invasive pathways and management.

Output 2: Map showing the potential climatic distribution of SLF in Australia to identify the likely location of impacted industries and environments.

Output 3: A tabulated report of the known environmental and amenity plant species attacked in Australia.

Output 4: A map of Australia showing the distribution of known host plants of SLF.

Output 5: Leaflets and articles illustrating SLF biology and identification of the life stages, the damage caused by SLF and the potential host range and distribution.

Outcomes/impact on plant biosecurity:

The presence of a wide range of woody hosts of SLF in the environment, as well as the pests tendency to congregate on inanimate objects such as garden furniture, wood piles and fence posts could pose several challenges including to our parks, gardens & forests, as an amenity/nuisance pest and are potential source populations for horticulture and forestry industries. This work would increase key stakeholder knowledge and preparedness for SLF in the environment.