The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) today announced that an infestation of the invasive insect known as spotted lanternfly (SLF) was found in the City of Springfield last week. Agricultural inspectors are in the middle of performing surveys in the area in order to determine the extent of the infestation. While MDAR has not been able to determine the origin of this new find, cities like Springfield with large industrial areas are at especially high risk for spotted lanternfly introductions, since this pest can hitchhike on trucks and other methods of transportation that come from infested states. Urban and industrial areas often harbor large populations of the spotted lanternfly’s preferred host plant, tree-of-heaven.
“With new populations of the spotted lanternfly likely to pop up more and more frequently as the invasive pest becomes established across the northeast, it is critical that we all remain diligent in identifying them early on,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Anyone who sees this pest is asked to report it promptly. Early detection will help limit the spread of spotted lanternfly and give orchards, farms, and other growers time to prepare.”
MDAR is urging the public to be on the lookout for this pest, especially if they live or work in the Springfield area. Spotted lanternflies may be found on sides of buildings, in or on vehicles, or on host plants, including tree of heaven, grape, maple and walnut. Anyone who has recently received goods or materials from states where SLF is known to have been introduced (including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) should also be on the lookout. Additionally, if a spotted lanternfly is found, the public is asked to take a photo or collect the specimen, and report the sighting using MDAR’s online reporting form.
The public should look for both adult insects (large, gray bugs, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings), as well as nymphs (younger, wingless insects that are red with black and white markings). Spotted lanternfly is a sap-feeding insect that has caused significant impacts to vineyards, orchards, and other agricultural commodities in states where it has become established. SLF not only harms grapevines, maples, hops, blueberries, and over 100 other host plants, but has the potential to negatively impact outdoor recreation through the swarming behavior that occurs during mating season.
Photo: SLF late-stage nymphs (Credit: USDA)