The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has announced that a dead specimen of the invasive pest called the spotted lanternfly was reported and confirmed in December 2018 in Boston. MDAR is urging 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 potential sightings through MDAR’s online reporting form by taking photographs and if possible, collecting a specimen. The insect appears to have been unintentionally transported this past December in a shipment of poinsettia plants originating from Pennsylvania. Residents should look for large, gray insects, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings.
Spotted lanternfly is an invasive sap-feeding insect from Asia first found in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania. While the main host plant is tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), it 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.
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.
Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club