An infestation of the invasive spotted lantern has been discovered in Springfield, prompting state officials to urge the public to seek out and report any sightings of the sap-feeding insect.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced Tuesday that the invasive insect was found last week in Springfield. State officials are still determining the extent of the infestation and have so far been unable to determine how the insects – which are known to be found in other states in the East Coast, including Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – ended up in Springfield.
“Cities like Springfield with large industrial areas are at particularly high risk of spotted lanternfly introductions, as this pest can hitchhike on trucks and other transportation from infested states” , the state said in a statement. “Urban and industrial areas often support large populations of the Mottled Lantern’s favorite host plant, the tree of paradise.”
The spotted lanternfly was first spotted in the United States in Pennsylvania in September 2014, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The insect, native to China, feeds on the sap of a range of ornamental, woody and fruit trees, posing a risk of impacting the country’s grape, orchard and logging industries if it is allowed to spread. They lay eggs on “almost any surface” including cars, trailers and patio furniture, which officials say allows them to spread long distances when people travel with infested materials.
A single dead spotted lanternfly was first found in Massachusetts in 2018. Since then, the insects have been found alive and dead in the state.
Springfield is the third city where a bug infestation has been found; the spotted lanternfly has also been found in Fitchburg and Shrewsbury.
“With new populations of Mottled Lanterns likely to appear with increasing frequency as the invasive pest establishes itself in the northeast, it is essential that we all remain diligent in identifying them early on,” said John Lebeaux, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. in a report. “Anyone who sees this pest is urged to report it promptly. Early detection will help limit the spread of the spotted lanternfly and give orchards, farms and other growers time to prepare.
In Massachusetts, authorities are urging the public to report sightings of the insect, which could be found on the sides of buildings, in or on vehicles, or on host plants or trees, via an online form.
Anyone receiving goods from states where the spotted lanternfly is present (Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) should also be lookout, depending on the state. .
“The public should look for both adult insects (large, gray insects, about an inch long, with black spots and red wings), as well as nymphs (younger, wingless, red insects with markings black and white),” officials said. .
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