BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is warning residents, landscapers and plant nurseries about the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF).

Egg masses have reportedly been seen on trees shipped to Massachusetts from other states. The MDAR is asking residents to inspect the trunk and branches of recently purchased trees or shrubs or had them planted on their property, particularly maple or crabapple trees, for SLF egg masses or any hitchhiking nymphs, and to report any finds to MDAR.

“Spotted lanternfly is a tricky pest to deal with, because it can be so challenging to detect before it becomes established,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “With the potential impact of this pest on grape and hop growers, as well as pick-your-own orchards and other parts of the agritourism industry, we are asking anyone with newly planted trees to check them for signs of SLF and to report it if they find it, so that we can limit the spread of this pest in our state.”

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 to outdoor activities.

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 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.