What happens to spotted lanternflies in the winter?

Spotted lanternflies have become a major invasive species in the Northeastern United States. They are very prominent in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. These insects are known for destroying crops, plants, and trees. Spotted lanternflies are most active in the spring and summer, but are they active in the winter months?

Before we dive into the logistics of this invasive species’ winter habits, we’ll look at the lifecycle of a spotted lanternfly and then find out if they have any winter survival strategies. While this invasive species does have a few predators, another defense mechanism against them could be the cold winters in the Northeast.

Spotted lanternfly hitches a ride on the hood of a white car

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Spotted lanternfly lifecycle

The spotted lanternfly life cycle involves three development stages: egg, nymph, and adult. During late fall, adults lay eggs on hard surfaces like trees, rocks, metal, cars and trailers, outdoor grills, and even plastic yard toys. Between late April and early June, these eggs will hatch into nymphs. As summer turns to fall, the spotted lanternflies begin to mature, and nymphs turn into adults. From September to November, and sometimes into December depending on when the first freeze happens, adults will lay eggs. 

Red and black spotted lanternfly nymphs relax on a tree branch.

Spotted lanternfly winter survival strategies

In the fall, spotted lanternflies mate and lay eggs. The eggs are laid on hard surfaces and are covered with a waxy protective coating. The egg stage can last from October to June. The eggs in these protected egg masses can survive throughout the winter months, ensuring the next generation will continue the following year.

Mud-like spotted lanternfly egg mass on tree.

Can adult spotted lanternflies survive in cold weather?

All adults and the few remaining nymphs will die off when winter’s first hard frost arrives. Spotted lanternflies only live through the winter as egg masses. Some eggs won’t make it to the spring due to predators. Others may succumb to the freezing temperatures if the female didn’t fully cover them with their waxy protective layer.

Adult spotted lanternflies rest on an egg mass on a tree limb.

Control spotted lanternflies during winter

There are some things you can do in the winter months to prevent this invasive species from becoming a problem when spring hits. One effective way to control spotted lanternflies during winter includes checking for egg masses and removing them. An egg mass looks like splotches of mud on a hard surface (pictured below).

Close up of two light brown spotted lanternfly egg masses on tree bark.

If you find an egg mass, destroy it immediately by scraping it off, putting it in a container with rubbing alcohol, and disposing of it. You can also use sticky bands and trim trees to remove overwintering habitats and catch nymphs in the spring. Any sightings should also be reported to your state’s Department of Agriculture.

Base of a tree wrapped in sticky tape with spotted lanternflies stuck to it.

Prepare for the spring

If left untreated, spotted lanternflies can cause serious damage to your property. In addition to eating your plants, spotted lanternflies also leave behind sticky excrement that can attract other pests, including stinging insects and ants.

If you are experiencing an infestation of spotted lanternflies on your property, contact us. We offer two spotted lanternfly treatments for residential properties – year-round or monthly. Both are effective control methods to prevent damage to your trees, plants, and property.

Emily Nicholson

Emily Nicholson is a Digital Marketing Coordinator for Rentokil North America. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two dogs. She loves being outside - mountains or beach - and enjoys working out, walking her pups, and relaxing with her husband, friends, and family.



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