Dispersion patterns and sample size estimates for egg masses of spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae).
The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), is a new invasive pest in the United States. To quantify spotted lanternfly population abundance, one must understand this pest's dispersion pattern, that is, the spatial arrangement of individuals within a population. Spotted lanternflies overwinter in egg masses from late fall to May, making this life stage suitable for population assessments. We measured the dispersion pattern of egg masses at two types of sites: a suburban housing development, where we used individual trees as the sampling unit, and rural woodlots, where we used individual trees and also plots with 5.64 m radius as sampling units. Plots were the same size as those recommended for monitoring the gypsy moth, a well-studied pest with similar egg laying habit to the spotted lanternfly. Egg masses in both sampling units were counted up to a height of 3 m. With trees as the sampling unit, egg masses were aggregated in 12 of 20 rural sampling universes, randomly dispersed at 6, and completely absent at 2. Similar patterns were seen when using the 5.64-m radius rural sampling units and for suburban sampling universes. We calculated sample size requirements for a range of mean densities at a precision of 25 and 30%. Additionally, the vertical distribution of egg masses was characterized on the invasive tree of heaven [Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle], a preferred host for spotted lanternflies. For small trees, there was a positive relationship between number of egg masses in the bottom 3 m of the tree and the total count.