After arriving in Delaware in 2017, spotted lanternfly now confirmed in Sussex County

DOVER, Del. (July 12, 2022) — Five years after the first confirmed spotted lanternfly was found in New Castle County in 2017, the spotted lanternfly has made its way to Sussex County, creating a statewide quarantine for this invasive pest.

The spotted lanternfly is a destructive invasive planthopper that attacks many hosts, including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes, and hops. The insect is detrimental to Delaware’s agricultural industry, forests, and residential areas.

Effective July 12, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) will expand the quarantine to include Sussex County due to established populations of spotted lanternfly found in Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, Ocean View, and Rehoboth. Quarantine means that residents, businesses, or municipalities cannot move any material or object that could harbor the pest without taking precautions to prevent the spread. Adults can fly, hop, or drop onto a vehicle – meaning that this pest can be easily transported to new areas where it can create another infestation.

“It is practically impossible to eradicate the spotted lanternfly because of its status as a hitchhiker bug,” said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Nikko Brady. “For a small state, our Spotted Lanternfly Program has done an excellent job in fending off the spread of this invasive insect for five years and are just now finding it in Sussex County.”

Since the initial population of spotted lanternfly was found in 2018, DDA has partnered with USDA to conduct surveys and assessments. Overall, the Spotted Lanternfly Program has treated 23,721 acres with insecticides or herbicides to reduce Delaware’s spotted lanternfly population. Once the females began laying egg masses this past fall, the team scraped 90,147 egg masses with 30-50 eggs in each, significantly reducing this year’s population.

Due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area. Therefore, DDA’s Spotted Lanternfly Program is focused on priority properties that are pathways for the movement of spotted lanternfly, including highways, railways, public transportation, and distribution centers. The Program’s inspectors use the tree of heaven, an invasive necessary for spotted lanternfly to reproduce, to search for the insect.

Managing Spotted Lanternfly
A 3rd instar spotted lanternfly is black with white spots. When it metamorphizes into a 4th instar, it will be black with red on its body and white spots.Homeowners are encouraged to visit Delaware’s spotted lanternfly website at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug to learn what the quarantine means and how to manage this invasive pest. The Delaware Homeowner Spotted Lanternfly and Treatment Fact Sheet lists pesticides labeled for planthoppers or leafhoppers sold at local home and garden stores, which can be used to kill the insect. Residents can do their part by treating nymphs and adults from May to November and scraping and destroying egg masses from December to May. Homeowners can also hire a commercially licensed turf and ornamental pesticide applicator to treat their properties for these insects.

In Delaware, spotted lanternfly nymphs are in the third and fourth instar stages and will metamorphize into adults before the end of July. From now until early September, trees are actively moving phloem from the trunk into the branches, which feed the tree’s growth. At this time, using a systemic insecticide is preferred because it is absorbed by tree roots, bark, or leaves and is moved through its vascular system to other parts of the tree. This means that no matter what area the spotted lanternfly feeds on, it will ingest the insecticide and die.

Eliminating the tree of heaven helps decrease the spotted lanternfly population. The tree of heaven is found in industrial parks, unmanaged areas, or vacant lots, and along highways and railways. Municipalities and businesses should prioritize destroying the female tree of heaven while leaving some male specimens as trap trees. The average homeowner does not have tree of heaven on their properties, but the homeowner should remove it if identified.

Delaware Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine and Permitting
The general public is encouraged to download and print the Delaware Resident Spotted Lanternfly Compliance Checklist, indicating that you inspected and know that no living life stage of the spotted lanternfly is present on regulated articles before moving them. The checklist is available online at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug. DDA recommends keeping the checklist in each vehicle’s glove box and noting the date when specific items on the list are inspected before transport.

Examples of regulated articles include:
• Any living life stage of the spotted lanternfly
• Landscaping, remodeling, or construction materials
• Firewood of any species
• Packing materials (e.g., wood crates, boxes)
• All plants and plant parts, including all live and dead trees, perennial and annual plants, and mulch
• Outdoor household articles like RVs, lawnmowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deck boards, and other vehicles not stored indoors.

Any person conducting business for a commercial company, a municipality, or a government agency that requires movement of any regulated item within or from the quarantine area must have a permit, available through the DDA spotted lanternfly website. To obtain a permit, a designated individual from an organization must receive training and pass an online test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. This individual is then required to train other employees to inspect vehicles and products and remove any spotted lanternfly life stages. The permit demonstrates that the individual understands how to identify the pest and ensure the items transported are not carrying the insect.

Reporting Spotted Lanternfly
Adult spotted lanternfly on a person's thumb. The adult is about the length from the tip of the thumb to the first joint below the nail.Residents who live near the Dover Air Force Base or in Sussex County are encouraged to report sightings of the spotted lanternfly. Citizen reports help DDA inspectors determine how these insects move and which transportation pathways they utilize. These reports also allow DDA to notify agricultural operations with plants vulnerable to this insect. Residents can make a report by using the online form at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug or emailing HitchHikerBug@delaware.gov and including the location of the find in the subject line. Due to the high level of reporting, DDA inspectors will not respond to emails but will use the information provided to determine if a new spotted lanternfly population is present.

Additional Information
In March 2019, DDA initially quarantined zip codes in New Castle County, where an established population of reproducing spotted lanternfly was found. The quarantine was expanded in September 2019 to include all areas of New Castle County north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and finally included the entire county in July 2020. DDA quarantined Kent County in October 2020, when established populations of the insect were found in Smyrna, Dover, and Harrington.

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DPH to Implement Updated CDC Guidance Reducing Quarantine, Isolation Periods

DOVER, DE (Dec. 28, 2021) – The Division of Public Health announced that it will implement updated guidance issued Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to shorten the recommended time that people should isolate or quarantine from 10 days to 5 days based on certain conditions and vaccination status.  The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if they have no symptoms at that time, they may leave isolation as long as they continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

The CDC’s new guidance says:

  • For those who test positive for COVID-19 – but don’t have symptoms – the isolation period can be reduced from 10 days to 5 days as long as the person wears a mask around others (in and out-of-home) for at least 5 additional days. If you have symptoms, you can end isolation after 5 days as long as any fever you had has resolved and any other symptoms are improving. If you have a fever, remain in isolation until the fever resolves. You must wear a mask in all settings for 5 additional days.
  • For close contacts who are unvaccinated, or more than 6 months out from their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or 2 months out from their single dose of Johnson & Johnson (without a booster), quarantine has been reduced from 10 days to 5 days, followed by mask use for an additional 5 days.
  • For close contacts who have received their booster shot, or are less than six months out from being fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna or are less than 2 months from their J&J vaccine, no quarantine is needed, but these persons should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure to the positive case.
  • For vaccinated close contacts who are not yet eligible for a booster – including students younger than 16 – no quarantine is needed. However, mask-wearing in all settings is required for 10 days. DPH is reviewing the guidance and evaluating its impact on the Test-to-Stay program.

According to the CDC, for all those exposed, best practice would also include a COVID-19 test at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.

Additionally, DPH will be refocusing its contact tracing efforts to focus on case investigation and contact tracing in high-risk settings (e.g.: schools, LTCs).  During case investigation, epidemiologists will ask persons who are positive for COVID-19 to inform their close contacts of their positive status instead of reaching out to all close contacts itself.  This change is due to increasing case numbers to investigate and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, necessitating a need to prioritize its personnel and resources on preventing spread among those at highest risk.  During the next few weeks, DPH also asks for the public’s patience with case investigators and contact tracers. Because it will take time for DPH to update its computer-based systems with the new guidance, contact tracers will advise individuals that the standard script they read will be based on the previous isolation and quarantine guidance, but let them know next steps for ending isolation and quarantine earlier per the new guidance.

Employers and schools are advised that they can move forward in applying the guidance to their employees and students themselves without our oversight, or needing clearance letters from DPH, which are not required. Using the new guidance can reduce the impact of illness on a business or school’s workforce.

“We know this sudden change in isolation and quarantine guidance will take time for everyone to review, understand and implement,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “But we want to follow the science and what it’s telling us is that people are mostly infectious earlier in their exposure and longer periods of isolation and quarantine are not necessary. We also want to prepare folks that because it will take our contact tracers a few weeks to implement this change in our system, that people may receive conflicting guidance.  But we believe it’s important to empower individuals, employers and schools to make the isolation and quarantine changes themselves, providing they understand the conditions attached to the CDC’s guidance.”

“The most important thing that Delawareans can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and to get their booster if they are eligible,” Dr. Rattay said. “In addition, everyone can protect themselves and their families by wearing a face mask in public places; washing their hands; maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowds, especially indoors; and getting tested if they have symptoms, have had an exposure, or are required by their employer. And if you are planning a New Year’s celebration, please keep the gathering small and wear a face mask if you do not know everyone’s vaccination status.”


Kent County added to Delaware’s spotted lanternfly quarantine

DOVER, Del. (October 29, 2020) – Effective October 30, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) will add Kent County in its entirety to the current spotted lanternfly quarantine of New Castle County. The expansion is due to established populations of spotted lanternfly found in Smyrna, Dover, and Harrington this past week. At this point in the season, a population includes multiple adults or gravid female spotted lanternfly.

The spotted lanternfly is a destructive invasive planthopper that attacks many hosts, including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes, and hops. The insect is detrimental to Delaware’s agricultural industry, forests, and residential areas. Due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area.

Quarantine means that residents, businesses, or municipalities cannot move any material or object that could harbor the pest without taking precautions to prevent the spread. Adults can fly, hop, or drop onto a vehicle – meaning that this pest can be easily transported to new areas where it can create another infestation. In September through November, the female spotted lanternfly will lay several egg masses of 30 to 50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces.

There is extreme concern about the timing of the finds in Kent County. A female spotted lanternfly will lay upward of 200 eggs before she dies due to cold weather. These eggs will overwinter and hatch out in the spring, creating a larger established population in 2021.

“While we understand the frustration residents have with infestations, we must focus on containing the spread of spotted lanternfly to protect Delaware and regional agriculture. Our staff will accomplish this by focusing treatments on priority properties that are pathways for the movement of spotted lanternfly such as highways, railways, public transportation, and distribution centers,” said DDA Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof. “Residents can do their part by removing tree of heaven, treating for nymphs and adults from May to November, and scraping and destroying egg masses from December to May. We are asking every Delaware resident to take part in the effort to stop the spread.”

DDA continues to partner with USDA on conducting surveys and property assessments. While USDA has overseen the treatment of properties identified with the tree of heaven, DDA is unsure if the federal funding for this will be available in the future. To date, 44,423 trees have been treated with insecticides or herbicides to reduce Delaware’s spotted lanternfly population.

The tree of heaven is an important food source for the spotted lanternfly, and eliminating this invasive helps decrease the spotted lanternfly population. The tree of heaven is found in industrial parks, along highways and railways, and in unmanaged areas or vacant lots. Municipalities and businesses should prioritize destroying the female tree of heaven while leaving some male specimens as trap trees.

If identified, homeowners should remove the tree of heaven from their property. This insect will feed and lay egg masses on other species of trees and ornamentals. Currently, homeowners can use any direct contact insecticide labeled for planthoppers or leafhoppers to kill adult spotted lanternfly. We have a listing of insecticides licensed for use in Delaware on our Homeowner Spotted Lanternfly and Treatment Fact Sheet online at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug. They can also hire a commercially licensed turf and ornamental pesticide applicator to treat their properties for these insects. Residents can help by scraping off egg masses into a bag containing rubbing alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and crushing them to destroy the eggs.

Residents are encouraged to report sightings of spotted lanternfly outside of New Castle County. Citizen reports help DDA inspectors determine how these insects are moving and which transportation pathways they are utilizing. These reports also all DDA to notify agricultural operations that have plants vulnerable to this insect. Residents can make a report by emailing HitchHikerBug@delaware.gov and including the location of the find in the subject line. Inspectors may visit the site or area to determine if a new spotted lanternfly population is present.

Any person conducting business for a commercial business, a municipality, or a government agency that requires movement of any regulated item within or from the quarantine area must have a permit, available through the DDA spotted lanternfly website. To obtain a permit, a designated individual from an organization must receive training and pass an online test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. This individual is then required to train other employees to inspect vehicles and products and remove any spotted lanternfly life stages. The permit demonstrates that the individual understands how to identify the pest and ensure the items transported are not carrying the insect.

The general public is encouraged to download and print the Delaware Resident Spotted Lanternfly Compliance Checklist, indicating that you inspected and know that no living life stage of the spotted lanternfly is present, on regulated articles before moving them. The checklist is available online at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug. DDA recommends keeping the checklist in each vehicle’s glove box and noting the date when specific items on the list are inspected before transport.

Examples of regulated articles include:

  • Any living life stage of the spotted lanternfly
  • Landscaping, remodeling, or construction materials
  • Firewood of any species
  • Packing materials (e.g., wood crates, boxes)
  • All plants and plant parts, including all live and dead trees, perennial and annual plants, and mulch
  • Outdoor household articles like RVs, lawnmowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deck boards, and other vehicles not stored indoors.

For more detailed information regarding the quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a spotted lanternfly, visit the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s dedicated spotted lanternfly webpage https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug.

In February 2019, DDA initially quarantined zip codes in New Castle County where an established population of reproducing spotted lanternfly was found. The quarantine was expanded in September 2019 to include all areas of New Castle County north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and finally included the entire county in July 2020.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov


All New Castle County Quarantined As Spotted Lanternfly Move South

This map depicts New Castle County shaded in pink to show the spotted lanternfly quarantine as of July 1, 2020
Effective July 1, all of New Castle County is quarantined for spotted lanternfly.

DOVER, Del. (June 30, 2020) – Effective July 1, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) will quarantine New Castle County in its entirety due to established populations of spotted lanternfly found in Odessa. This is an expansion of the quarantine initially enacted in February 2019 and updated in September 2019.

DDA continues to partner with USDA to conduct surveys and property assessments, while USDA oversees treatment of properties identified with tree of heaven. To date, 4,088 acres have been treated including 20,135 trees encompassing 185 properties above the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

Tree of heaven is necessary for the spotted lanternfly to reproduce and eliminating this invasive species helps to decrease the population of spotted lanternfly. This tree is often seen in industrial parks, along highways and railways, and in unmanaged areas or vacant lots.

“Due to the mild winter, we have experienced a high hatch rate of spotted lanternfly nymphs. This is consistent with the reports we are receiving from New Castle County residents who are asking how to get rid of this pest,” said DDA Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof. “The treatment program is focused on properties that have tree of heaven present, but we know from surveying that many homeowners are finding the nymphs on other plants in their landscapes as well. We are encouraging homeowners experiencing outbreaks of this pest to use insecticides labeled for planthoppers or leafhoppers to kill nymphs and adult spotted lanternfly. If homeowners don’t feel comfortable applying insecticides themselves, they can hire a commercially licensed turf and ornamental pesticide applicator to conduct treatments.”

The spotted lanternfly is a destructive invasive plant hopper that attacks many hosts including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes, and hops. The insect is detrimental to Delaware’s agricultural industry, forests, and residential areas. Due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area.

The quarantine can expand if there is reason to believe that the pest has moved to a non-quarantined area. A quarantine means that any material or object that could harbor the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent the spread. Adults can fly, hop, or drop onto a vehicle – meaning that this pest can easily be transported to new areas where it can create another infestation.

“We are encouraging everyone to help us battle the spotted lanternfly and slow its spread. We have really shifted gears in New Castle County to a capture or destroy mentality. All spotted lanternfly should be destroyed, but if you are below the C&D Canal and find spotted lanternfly we want to know and need a specimen to confirm.” said Katie Bielicki, Delaware Spotted Lanternfly Program Coordinator. “Over the next week or so, residents will see the nymph change in colors to black with red splotches and white dots. Once this happens, the metamorphosis to the adult form is not far off and typically begins by mid-July. It’s a lot easier to treat with insecticide to kill the nymphs now, than it is to kill adults who often will climb into the upper canopies of trees to lay their egg masses.”

Beginning in September, the female spotted lanternfly will lay several egg masses of 30 to 50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces.

Any person conducting business for a commercial business, a municipality, or a government agency that requires movement of any regulated item within or from the quarantine area must have a permit, available through the DDA spotted lanternfly website. To obtain a permit, a designated individual from an organization must receive training and pass an online test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. Training of other employees, inspection of vehicle and products, and removal of living stages of spotted lanternfly must be completed. The permit demonstrates the individual understands how to identify the pest and can ensure the items transported are not carrying the insect.

To move regulated items, the general public is encouraged to download and print the Delaware Resident Spotted Lanternfly Compliance Checklist indicating that you inspected and know that no living life stage of the spotted lanternfly is present, on regulated articles before moving them. DDA recommends keeping the checklist in the glovebox of each vehicle and dating when specific items on the list are inspected prior to transporting.

Examples of regulated articles include:
• Any living life stage of the spotted lanternfly
• Landscaping, remodeling, or construction materials
• Firewood of any species
• Packing materials (e.g. wood crates, boxes)
• All plants and plant parts including all live and dead trees, perennial and annual plants, and mulch
• Outdoor household articles like RVs, lawnmowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deck boards, and other vehicles not stored indoors.

For more detailed information regarding the quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a sighting of spotted lanternfly, visit the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s dedicated spotted lanternfly webpage at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug or call the dedicated spotted lanternfly hotline at (302) 698-4632. When leaving a message, leave your contact information and, if reporting a sighting, please provide the location of the sighting.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov


Delaware expands spotted lanternfly quarantine in New Castle County

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) announced today that they expanded the spotted lanternfly quarantine to include all portions of New Castle County north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. This is due to recent detections of established populations outside of the initial quarantine zone enacted in February 2019 that included eleven zip codes.

adult spotted lanternfly on tree of heaven marked for treatment“This expansion is necessary in our attempt to eradicate, control, and prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly in Delaware and to surrounding states. Along with conducting surveys, our Plant Industries inspectors, in conjunction with USDA contractors, have treated 19,685 trees in the initial quarantine zone, encompassing 130 properties,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “With the current presence of adult lanternflies, Delawareans have been actively reporting sightings of this pest over the past two weeks, including areas in the original quarantine zone as well as new sites in New Castle County. Our inspectors investigated these reports and determined established populations of spotted lanternfly were present at these new sites, thus requiring us to expand the quarantine.”

The spotted lanternfly is a destructive invasive plant hopper that attacks many hosts including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes, and hops. The insect is detrimental to Delaware’s agricultural industry, forests, and residential areas. Due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area.

The quarantine can expand if there is reason to believe that the pest has moved to a non-quarantined area. A quarantine means that any material or object that could harbor the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent the spread. Adults can fly, hop, or drop onto a vehicle – meaning that this pest can easily be transported to new areas where it can create another infestation.

“We have heard from many residents who are seeing an abundance of adult spotted lanternfly and are overwhelmed by their presence and want to know what they can do,” said DDA Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof. “We realize that residents cannot kill all of them, but even stomping on one makes a difference. We want to decrease the number of female spotted lanternfly available to lay egg masses, which will directly impact the population that hatches out in the spring.”

Beginning at the end of September, the female spotted lanternfly will lay several egg masses of 30 to 50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. Eggs will survive the winter and nymphs will hatch out beginning the end of April 2020. Residents can help by scraping off egg masses into a bag containing rubbing alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and crushing them to destroy the eggs.

Any person conducting business for a commercial business, a municipality, or a government agency that requires movement of any regulated item within or from the quarantine area must have a permit, available through the DDA spotted lanternfly website. To obtain a permit, a designated individual from an organization must receive training and pass an online test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. Training of other employees, inspection of vehicle and products, and removal of living stages of spotted lanternfly must be completed. The permit demonstrates the individual understands how to identify the pest and can ensure the items transported are not carrying the insect.

To move regulated items, the general public is encouraged to download and print a residential compliance checklist indicating that you inspected, and know that no living life stage of the spotted lanternfly is present, on regulated articles before moving them. The checklist is available online at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug. DDA recommends keeping the checklist in the glovebox of each vehicle and dating when specific items on the list are inspected prior to transporting.

Examples of regulated articles include:

  • Any living life stage of the spotted lanternfly
  • Landscaping, remodeling, or construction materials
  • Firewood of any species
  • Packing materials (e.g. wood crates, boxes)
  • All plants and plant parts including all live and dead trees, perennial and annual plants, and mulch
  • Outdoor household articles like RVs, lawnmowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deckboards, and other vehicles not stored indoors.

For more detailed information regarding the quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a sighting of spotted lanternfly, visit the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s dedicated spotted lanternfly webpage at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug or call the dedicated spotted lanternfly hotline at (302) 698-4632. When leaving a message, leave your contact information and, if reporting a sighting, please provide the location of the sighting.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov