State officials issue warning after invasive spotted lanternfly found in Boston

BOSTON (WHDH) - The state’s Department of Agricultural Resources is asking residents to search their potted plants for spotted lanternfly after the invasive insect was found at a private residence in Boston.

In a statement issued Monday, the MDAR urged the public to “check for signs of spotted lanternfly adults in any potted plants that they may have received over the holiday season and to report any potential sightings of this pest on MDAR’s online reporting form by taking photos and collecting a specimen if possible.”

The spotted lanternfly is gray, about an inch long, and has black spots and red underwings.

It is an invasive sap-feeding insect from Asia that was first found in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania. While the main host plant of this pest is tree-of-heaven, spotted lanternfly attacks a variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, and has the potential to impact a broad range of agricultural commodities, including apples, peaches, grapes/wine, maple syrup, as well as the ornamental nursery industry.

“Early detection plays an important role in the protection of the economic and ecological resources of our state from invasive species,” MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux said in a statement. “We ask all residents who have received potted plants this past December to help us protect Massachusetts’ environment and agricultural industries by checking for and reporting signs of spotted lanternfly.”

The insect appears to have been unintentionally transported this past December in a shipment of poinsettia plants originating from Pennsylvania. Because only one dead adult insect was found and spotted lanternfly die off when a hard frost hits, there is currently no evidence that this pest has become established in Massachusetts. However, additional surveys are planned in the area to confirm that no other occurrences of lanternfly are present.

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