SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) announced Tuesday that an infestation of the Spotted Lanternfly was discovered in the City of Springfield last week.

MDAR is asking the public to be on the lookout for this invasive insect in the Springfield area. Inspectors are in the city to perform surveys to learn more about the extent of the infestation. Cities like Springfield with a large industrial area are at high risk for the invasive insect since they tend to hitchhike on trucks from infested states.

“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.”

22News spoke with Ben Clark, the owner of Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield. He said they have not seen the invasive species however they’re watching out for the signs and so should you.

“Be aware, looking and seeing if you see anything strange like the very distinctive spots in the masses infestations, and report it and hopefully you have it taken care of,” said Clark.

This pest feeds on sap and can damage or kill over 100 types of plants including grapevines, fruit trees, maples, hops, and blueberries. Additionally, they swarm during mating season causing an impact on outdoor activities.

Western Massachusetts residents are asked to look for both adult insects and nymphs. Adult insects are large, gray bugs, that are about one inch long with black spots and red underwings. A nymph is a younger, wingless insect that is red with black and white markings.

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 a large, gray bug, 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 no evidence shows that they have become established in the state. Two dead specimens of the invasive pest were found in Milford and Norwood in eastern Massachusetts in September 2020.