Be on the Lookout for the Spotted Lanternfly
Massachusetts residents are being asked to look closely at any out-of-state potted plants—especially poinsettias- they have received recently after a dead spotted lanternfly was found on a houseplant in Boston.
When at rest, a spotted lanternfly’s forewings appear to be dull brownish gray
with black spots. When disturbed, they fly or hop away, revealing bright red and white hind wings. They overwinter in a mud-like egg mass, often stuck to the bark of trees. Though it is not yet a major problem in MA, it can cause serious damage to fruit crops.
The spotted lanternfly is a destructive non-native invasive insect that made its way here from China. The insect found its way to the United States as eggs laid on a shipment of crushed rocks shipped to Berks County, Penn. where it has spread and is under quarantine. According to a spokesperson from the MA Dept. of Ag. Resources, they will lay their eggs on anything. In Pennsylvania, spotted lanternflies have been found on
the underside of cushions of patio furniture, on rebar, crushed stone and other surfaces. They could attach to cars or trucks. The adults and young can be present in very large numbers, like a swarm of giant mosquitoes. They create so much sticky excrement that it can coat outdoor furniture, porches, tables and play equipment. The sweet, sugary substance is attractive to ants and stinging insects, such as wasps. It can also lead to a
sooty mold growing over plants and other surfaces coated by the goo.
For further information or to report a finding visit https://www.mass.gov/spotted-lanternfly
Photos: Holly Raguza and Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture
Horticultural Hints for April by Neal Sanders