Invasive spotted lantern fly found in Fitchburg, threatening Massachusetts crops

An invasive insect threatening crops, from apples to maple products, has made its way to Massachusetts.

Authorities found a small population of spotted lanterns in Fitchburg, near where a nymph was found in August, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources said Tuesday. The inch-long gray bug, notable for its red wings and black spots, was also seen in Vermont earlier this year.

“The spotted lantern can have devastating effects on the agricultural industry in Massachusetts, including a number of farms and orchards in this part of the state that we want to protect from this pest,” said the MDAR commissioner. , John Lebeaux.

The insects have so far only been found in three trees in the Fitchburg area, officials said, but agricultural inspectors continue to search the area for further infestations.

Lanterns are often found on the sides of buildings and vehicles, or on their favorite plants – tree of the sky, vines, maples, and walnut trees.

If spotted, residents are encouraged to photograph, collect, and report the insects to the state. Laternflies may appear in their adult gray, red, and black form, as eggs in yellowish-brown rectangular shapes an inch long covered with a gray waxy coating.

“Early detection and reporting is the best way to slow the spread of the spotted lantern fly. Said Lebeaux. “[If] members of the public, especially those in the Fitchburg area, have seen this pest, and are urged to report it as soon as possible.

Authorities are not sure how the lanterns got to Fitchburg, but the insects are often spread on moving vehicles or in shipments of produce, lumber or landscaping materials.

Native to Asia, the lanterns first arrived in the United States in 2014, and have since spread to at least 10 states, mostly in the northeast.

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