The spotted lanternfly resembles a moth when it jumps or flies, but in reality, it is neither a fly nor a moth. It is a type of planthopper that belongs to the Order Hemiptera (cicadas, leafhoppers, and aphids). The adults prefer to feed primarily on the non-native host plant “tree of heaven” (Allianthus altissima) while the immature stages (or nymphs) will feed on a wide range of trees, fruits, and even grape vines.
These insects eat tree sap and then excrete droppings of a sweet, sticky substance called Honeydew. The honeydew will coat the tree, the base of the tree, and anything underneath the tree, including cars, hardscapes, and decking. Then, black, sooty mold grows on the secreted substance. The combination of honeydew and black, sooty mold has an unpleasantly sour stench and is very difficult to remove from surfaces.