Invasive spotted lanternfly discovered in Worcester County


WORCESTER, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has located a small population of the invasive spotted lanternfly in Fitchburg.

Inspectors are currently surveying the area where the insect was found, which was close to where a lanternfly nymph was found earlier this summer. The infestation is currently secluded to a single cluster of three trees in the area, according to the MDAR.

MDAR has not yet determined the origin of the lanternfly infestation but the insect is known to travel of out infested areas on cars, trucks, and trains. They are asking the public to be on the lookout for the pest, especially in the central northern part of Massachusetts.

SLF adult found on a tree in Fitchburg, MA in September (Photo credit: MDAR)

“The spotted lanternfly can have devastating impacts on Massachusetts’ agricultural industry, including on a number of farms and orchards in this part of the state that we want to protect from this pest,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Early detection and reporting is the best way to slow the spread of spotted lanternfly. Members of the public, particularly those in the Fitchburg area, have seen this pest, they are asked to report it as soon as possible.”

Spotted lanternfly are an invasive sap-feeding insect from Asia that were first found in Pennsylvania in 2014. They mainly target tree-of-heaven but have been seen on shrubs, vines and agricultural trees like apple, peach and others.

Where you can spot a Spotted Lanternfly

Nymphs of SLF, from left to right, youngest to oldest (photo credit: Teá Kesting-Handly)

The bug can be found congregating on sides of buildings, in or on vehicles, or on plants they prefer to attack, including tree of heaven, grape and walnut. They may attach themselves to goods being transported into the state from the following states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

What to do if you find a Spotted Lanternfly

If you happen to come across a spotted lanternfly, MDAR encourages you to take a photo or collect the specimen and report it to the department online. Search the area for both adult insects as well. a full size spotted lanternfly is identified as large, gray bugs, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings. Nymphs of the insect look black with white dots and older nymphs are red with black and white spots.

Massachusetts has identified the insect in the state several times in the last few years but this is the first time evidence has been found of a breeding population in the state. Two dead specimens of the invasive pest were found in Milford and Norwood in eastern Massachusetts in September 2020.

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