SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — State officials are asking for the public's help in fighting an invasive insect that might have rode into town on a truck.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources on Tuesday announced that an infestation of the spotted lanternfly was found in Springfield last week. The sap-feeding insect has damaged vineyards, orchards, and agricultural commodities in other states, and is also known for "swarming behavior" during mating season.
"With new populations of the spotted lanternfly likely to pop up more and more frequently as the invasive pest becomes established across the northeast, it is critical that we all remain diligent in identifying them early on," Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux said. "Anyone who sees this pest is asked to report it promptly. Early detection will help limit the spread of spotted lanternfly and give orchards, farms, and other growers time to prepare."
The department has been unable to determine the origin of the Springfield infestation, but inspectors continue to perform surveys in the area. The department said large industrial areas are at high risk for the spotted lanternfly, "since this pest can hitchhike on trucks and other methods of transportation that come from infested states" and urban and industrial areas often harbor the insect's preferred host plant, tree-of-heaven.
Officials say the spotted lanternflies may be found on sides of buildings, in or on vehicles, or on host plants, including tree of heaven, grape, maple and walnut. The department advised anyone who has recently received goods or materials from states where the insect is known to have been introduced (including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia) to also be on the lookout. If a spotted lanternfly is found, officials are asking the public to take a photo or collect the specimen, and report the sighting using MDAR's online reporting form.
Written by Michael Norton/SHNS.