Spotted lanternfly is an opportunistic feeder that attacks just about any plant species available. However, it does have certain species that it prefers to feed on if they are present. As spotted lanternfly goes through the various stages of their lives, their feeding habits change. Early in the season, they are commonly found on understory plants, feeding on the soft stems and leaves of rose, grapes, and even weeds in the yard. As they progress into their Fourth Instar and Adult phases, they prefer to feed on woody trunks and branches, sucking the sap directly out of the phloem with their piercing mouthparts. As fall progresses, adults shift their feeding to the tree species that are last to senesce for the year.
Spotted Lanternfly & Tree-of-Heaven
While the exact relationship between spotted lanternfly and Tree-of-Heaven remains unclear, it appears that there is a connection. Some studies have suggested the spotted lanternfly requires the Tree-of-Heaven tree to complete their life cycle, while other studies suggest the tree is just a preference, not a requirement. Regardless, field experience has shown that removing Tree-of-Heaven can significantly reduce the presence of the insects on a property.