Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
Help Prevent Spotted Lanternfly in Ontario

A new invasive species threat is approaching Ontario and we’re asking you (yes, you!) to help keep it at bay.

The spotted lanternfly threatens many of our native tree species, including maples, aspens, pines, and cherry trees. Vines are also susceptible to this pest.

We need our community scientists across the province to report sightings of the spotted lanternfly’s accomplice: Tree of Heaven.

What is the Tree of Heaven?

The Tree of Heaven is an invasive tree native to China. It was first introduced to North America in 1784 in the Philadelphia area.

leafy foliage

Since the introduction of the species, Tree of Heaven has spread widely and has become a common invasive tree in urban, forested and agricultural areas. It can be found throughout Canada and is widespread in Ontario.

So if we’re trying to stop Spotted Lanternfly, why worry about Tree of Heaven?

Tree of Heaven is invasive itself, but it is also the primary host species for the spotted lanternfly.

The good news? The spotted lanternfly is not yet known to be found in Canada.

brown insect with spotted wings

But has It has been detected just across the border from Ontario, in New York State, and is therefore an imminent threat to Canada.

The Spotted Lanternfly species targets over 70 species of plants and trees. It threatens to severely impact Ontario’s viticulture (wine), fruit tree and maple industries, which have a combined estimated value of more than $530 billion a year in Canada.

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Spotted lanternflyPhoto: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Because Tree of Heaven is the primary host of the spotted lanternfly, knowing where these trees exist in our communities can help identify areas most at risk for this invasive insect.

This greatly aids early detection and rapid response, increasing the likelihood of successful containment and eradication, saving Ontario’s economy, natural resources and protected parks!

We need your help!

"keys" of yellow leaves on the treePhoto: Alison Grant

Have you seen a Tree of Heaven?

Take a photo and upload it to the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System to report your sighting!

Once submitted, your report will be verified by the EDDMapS Ontario expert and added to the provincial database.

New to EDDMapS? Watch this quick instructional video:

How to identify the Tree of Heaven

The Tree of Heaven grows rapidly. It can become very large and reach heights of more than 21 m! It is capable of producing suckers from its base, so it often appears to be the size of a small to medium-sized shrub.

bushy leaf growthPhoto (left): Barb Alber

It can be found in urban areas, but also along roads, fences, railway tracks, and many other common areas, including provincial parks.

If this is a new species for your identification list, review these images to know what you are looking for.

Glandular teeth (small lobes) at the base of each valve:

Photo: Dave Jackson, Penn State University

Twigs that have large V- or teardrop-shaped leaf scars:

Photo: Dave Jackson, Penn State University

Brown to gray rind, very similar to the skin of a melon:

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Photo: Dave Jackson, Penn State University

Tree of Heaven is easily confused with native species such as black walnut and staghorn sumac. A key distinguishing feature of Tree of Heaven is the smell of burnt peanut butter when the leaves are crushed.

Has the Tree of Heaven been successfully identified in a provincial park (or anywhere else in Ontario)?

Help our scientists and resource management technicians: report your sighting on EDDMapS.

hiker taking photos of the tree

Your community science contributions can provide critical support to keeping our natural spaces safe and protected from invasive species!

Today’s post comes from Lauren Bell of the Invasive Species Center. Visit the ISC website forLearn more about these unwanted invaders and how you can help exclude them from Ontario parks and protected areas.