Close-up of a Spotted Lanternfly on green foliage, showcasing AcuSpray's drone technology for pest control.

Utilizing Drone Technology to Combat Spotted Lanternfly Infestations in Michigan

The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), an invasive insect from eastern Asia, poses a significant threat to agriculture and ecosystems in the United States. Since its initial detection in Pennsylvania in 2014, the SLF has rapidly spread to various states, causing extensive damage to crops, trees, and ornamental plants. The pest’s feeding habits can severely stress plants by sucking sap, leading to reduced yields, compromised plant health, and the proliferation of sooty mold due to honeydew excretions. This makes the SLF not only an ecological menace but also an economic threat that necessitates immediate and effective management strategies.

On June 24, 2024, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) confirmed the state’s second detection of Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in Monroe County. This recent detection underscores the urgency of the situation and highlights the need for comprehensive and innovative approaches to control and prevent the spread of this invasive pest.

The infestation was detected through monitoring traps deployed by Michigan State University (MSU), as part of a collaborative survey initiative with MSU, MDARD, and the USDA. Steve Carlson, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director, emphasized the critical nature of this work in identifying and limiting the spread of SLF in Michigan. The collaborative efforts between state and federal agencies are essential in assessing the scope of the infestation and formulating an appropriate response to mitigate the impact of this invasive species.

Overview of the Spotted Lanternfly

Origin and Spread

The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive insect native to eastern Asia. It was first detected in the United States in 2014, in southeastern Pennsylvania. Since then, the SLF has spread rapidly across the eastern and midwestern states, reaching 17 states to date. The spread of SLF is facilitated by its ability to hitchhike on vehicles, firewood, and other transported materials, making containment challenging. For a more detailed understanding of the lifecycle and identification of the Spotted Lanternfly, including its various life stages and identifying characteristics, please refer to our previous blog post on the topic, which provides comprehensive information on how to recognize SLF at different stages and outlines the threats they pose to our ecosystems and agriculture.

Impact on Agriculture and Ecosystems

SLF poses a significant threat to a variety of plants, including grapevines, fruit trees, hardwoods, and ornamental plants. The insect feeds on plant sap using its piercing-sucking mouthparts, which can weaken plants, reduce yields, and cause plant stress. Additionally, SLF excretes a sugary substance known as honeydew, which promotes the growth of sooty mold on plants, further inhibiting photosynthesis and leading to discoloration and possible death of affected plants. This makes SLF not only an ecological menace but also an economic threat to industries such as viticulture, fruit orchards, and hardwood production.

Traditional Control Methods

Manual Removal

Manual removal is a straightforward and eco-friendly method to control Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) populations, especially in areas with low infestations. Here are some common manual techniques:

  • Squishing Nymphs and Adults: Physically crushing the nymphs and adult SLFs is an effective way to reduce their numbers. This method is particularly useful for individual plants or small infested areas.
  • Scraping Egg Masses: During the fall and winter, SLFs lay egg masses on trees, rocks, and various surfaces. Scraping these egg masses off into a bag containing rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer can kill the eggs and prevent them from hatching in the spring. This method is crucial for preventing the next generation of SLFs.

Chemical Insecticides

Chemical insecticides are commonly used to control SLF populations, especially in larger infestations or agricultural settings. There are two main types of insecticides used:

  • Contact Insecticides: These insecticides kill SLFs upon direct contact. They are effective in quickly reducing the number of visible SLFs but require thorough coverage to reach all the insects.
  • Systemic Insecticides: These are absorbed by the plant and kill SLFs when they feed on the sap. Systemic insecticides provide longer-lasting protection but must be applied correctly to ensure effectiveness.

While chemical insecticides can be highly effective, they come with limitations:

  • Environmental Impact: There is a risk of harming non-target organisms, including beneficial insects such as pollinators.
  • Resistance Development: Over time, SLFs may develop resistance to certain chemicals, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Regulatory Restrictions: The use of certain insecticides may be regulated, and users must follow label instructions and safety guidelines.

Effective Use of Drone Technology for Spotted Lanternfly Management

AcuSpray is at the forefront of integrating advanced drone technology into pest management. Our mission is to provide precise, efficient, and environmentally sustainable solutions to control invasive pests like the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF). Utilizing state-of-the-art multispectral imaging and precision spraying drones, AcuSpray ensures targeted treatment that minimizes environmental impact while maximizing effectiveness. Using drone technology to combat Spotted Lanternfly infestations offers a precise and efficient method for managing this invasive pest.

Research Supporting Drone Application

Scientific Studies

  • Beauveria bassiana Effectiveness: Research has demonstrated the efficacy of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana in controlling SLF populations. Field trials have shown significant reduction in SLF numbers with minimal non-target impacts. Studies by Oxford Academic and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture highlight how B. bassiana spores infect and kill SLF through a natural biological process, making it a suitable candidate for aerial application.
  • Extension Publications: Findings from Penn State Extension underscore the success of aerial applications in managing SLF infestations. These publications detail how aerial spraying, particularly using drone technology, has led to significant reductions in SLF populations across various settings, including vineyards and hardwood forests. These studies have shown that drone technology is highly effective in managing Spotted Lanternfly populations through targeted applications of biological insecticides.

Products for Aerial Application

  • BioCeres WP: BioCeres WP, containing Beauveria bassiana, is an OMRI-listed biological insecticide suitable for aerial application. It has been proven effective in controlling a wide range of pests, including SLF, by infecting them with fungal spores that eventually kill them.
  • BotaniGard ES: Another effective product based on Beauveria bassiana is BotaniGard ES. This biological insecticide is also suitable for aerial spraying and has been successfully used in various pest management programs. Its mode of action ensures that SLFs are effectively targeted without harming beneficial insects.
  • Grandevo: Grandevo utilizes the bacterium Chromobacterium subtsugae and is a microbial insecticide ideal for drone applications. It works by disrupting the feeding and growth of SLFs, providing an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional chemical insecticides.

By integrating these scientifically supported products and advanced drone technology, AcuSpray offers a cutting-edge solution to manage and mitigate the impact of the Spotted Lanternfly. Our approach not only ensures effective pest control but also promotes environmental sustainability through precise and targeted applications.

Case Studies and Real-World Applications

Vineyard Applications

Aerial application of biological insecticides using drones has proven to be effective in reducing Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) populations in vineyards. In field trials conducted by Penn State Extension, the application of Beauveria bassiana via drone technology significantly decreased SLF numbers in vineyards, resulting in healthier grapevines and improved yields. The precision of drone applications ensures thorough coverage of the infested areas while minimizing the use of chemical insecticides, thus protecting the environment and beneficial insects.

A study published by Springer further supports these findings, highlighting the successful use of drone technology to apply biological agents in vineyards. This method not only reduced SLF populations but also demonstrated the practicality and efficiency of drones in managing pest infestations in challenging terrains such as vineyards.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Drones play a crucial role in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for sustainable SLF control. IPM focuses on combining multiple management tactics to reduce pest populations to acceptable levels while minimizing environmental impact. Penn State Extension has documented the successful integration of drone technology into IPM programs. Drones equipped with multispectral imaging sensors are used to monitor plant health and detect early signs of SLF infestation, allowing for targeted interventions before the pest spreads widely.

In these IPM programs, drones apply biological insecticides like BioCeres WP and BotaniGard ES directly to infested areas, ensuring precise and efficient treatment. This targeted approach reduces the need for broad-spectrum chemical sprays, which can harm non-target organisms and lead to pesticide resistance. The use of drones in IPM not only improves the effectiveness of pest control measures but also supports environmental sustainability by reducing the overall chemical footprint.

These case studies and real-world applications highlight the transformative potential of drone technology in managing SLF infestations. By leveraging advanced drone capabilities and integrating them into comprehensive IPM strategies, stakeholders can achieve effective and sustainable control of this invasive pest, safeguarding both agricultural productivity and environmental health.

Environmental and Safety Considerations

Minimal Non-Target Impact

Using biological insecticides such as Beauveria bassiana offers significant safety and ecological benefits. Research has shown that these biological agents specifically target the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) without affecting non-target organisms, including beneficial insects like pollinators. The spores of B. bassiana adhere to the insect’s cuticle, germinate, and penetrate the exoskeleton, ultimately killing the insect from within. This method of action ensures that only the pests are affected, minimizing the impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

Studies published in Oxford Academic highlight that B. bassiana and other biological insecticides used in drone applications have been effective in controlling SLF populations while preserving ecological balance. These findings reinforce the importance of integrating biological agents into pest management programs to reduce the reliance on chemical insecticides and their associated environmental risks.

Regulatory Compliance

Adhering to manufacturer labels and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines is crucial when using insecticides for aerial applications. Compliance ensures that the products are used safely and effectively, minimizing risks to human health and the environment. Here are key points to consider:

  • Label Instructions: Always follow the application rates, timing, and methods specified on the product label. These instructions are designed to maximize efficacy while ensuring safety for applicators and non-target species.
  • EPA Guidelines: Ensure that the chosen insecticides are approved by the EPA for aerial use. This includes verifying that the products are labeled for drone applications and meet all regulatory requirements. The EPA provides guidance on the safe use of pesticides, including measures to prevent contamination of water sources and protect wildlife.
  • Training and Certification: Operators should be trained and certified in the use of aerial application equipment. This includes understanding how to calibrate drones for precise delivery of insecticides and implementing best practices to prevent drift and off-target application.

By adhering to these regulatory requirements and leveraging the benefits of biological insecticides, stakeholders can effectively manage SLF infestations while safeguarding the environment and human health.

Moving Forward: Embracing Advanced Solutions

Utilizing drone technology for managing Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) infestations offers numerous advantages. Drones equipped with multispectral imaging and precision spraying capabilities ensure targeted and efficient application of biological insecticides like Beauveria bassiana. This method not only effectively reduces SLF populations but also minimizes environmental impact by preserving non-target species and reducing chemical usage. The integration of drones into pest management strategies enhances the accuracy and timeliness of interventions, leading to healthier crops and ecosystems.

Stakeholders in agriculture and environmental management are encouraged to adopt drone technology for effective and sustainable pest control. By leveraging the precision and efficiency of drones, we can combat the spread of SLF more effectively and safeguard our agricultural productivity and ecological health. Adopting these advanced solutions not only addresses the current SLF threat but also positions us to better manage future pest invasions.

For specialized treatment solutions, reach out to AcuSpray to learn how our advanced drone technology can help protect your crops and environment from the Spotted Lanternfly.

Public awareness and participation are crucial in the fight against the Spotted Lanternfly. Initiatives like “Eyes in the Field” rely on community involvement to detect and report SLF sightings. Residents and businesses can play a vital role by monitoring their surroundings, reporting infestations, and adopting preventative measures. Together, through coordinated efforts and the use of innovative technologies, we can significantly mitigate the impact of this invasive pest.

By embracing advanced drone technology and fostering community engagement, we can achieve effective and sustainable management of the Spotted Lanternfly, protecting both our economy and environment.


  1. Oxford Academic: Effectiveness of Beauveria bassiana in controlling Spotted Lanternfly populations.
    • Beauveria bassiana Efficacy
    • Environmental Benefits of Biological Insecticides
  2. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Research and findings on SLF management.
  3. SLF Management and Biological Control
  4. Penn State Extension: Studies and publications on SLF and aerial application success.
  1. Spotted Lanternfly Management in Vineyards
  2. Spotted Lanternfly Management Guide
  3. Arbico Organics: Product information for biological insecticides suitable for drone application.
  1. BioCeres WP
  2. BotaniGard ES
  3. Grandevo
  4. BioSafe Systems: Detailed product information for BioCeres WP.
  5. BioCeres WP Product Page
  6. Springer: Case studies on the use of drone technology in pest management.
  7. Drone Technology in Vineyards

For more detailed information on SLF lifecycle, identification, and control methods, please refer to our previous blog post on Combating Spotted Lanternfly with AcuSpray’s Drone Technology.

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