Honeydew Falls Like Rain

Sooty and white mold grow on honeydew deposited by spotted lanternflies feeding on Ailanthus, Schenley Park, 15 Sep 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

17 September 2023

The onslaught of invasive spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) continues in Pittsburgh until the first truly cold weather gives us a couple of frosts. This month the bugs are congregating on vertical objects, feeding on Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and laying eggs.

On Friday in Schenley Park the sun broke sideways through the trees to a large Ailanthus along the Lower Trail coated in lanternflies, sooty mold, and white mold (highlighted in yellow). The lanternflies were actively sucking on the tree’s sap.

White mold on Ailanthus beneath the spotted lanternfly feeding zone, Schenley Park, 15 Sep 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

Sunlight illuminated small bugs flying horizontally near the tree and something falling that looked like rain.

Spotted lanternfly honeydew drops like rain, Schenley Park, 15 Sep 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

Uh oh! That rain is watery spotted lanternfly poop called “honeydew.” The honeydew is sugary and the air actually smelled sweet.

So stand back when you see a tree coated in sooty mold and spotted lanternflies. You won’t want to get rained on.

Here’s more about sooty mold.

p.s. Don’t worry about honeydew dropping from buildings and utility poles. The lanternflies aren’t eating there so they aren’t pooping either.

(photos and video by Kate St. John)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *