It may look pretty, but the invasive spotted lanternfly can cause a lot of damage.

In recent days, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources identified two dead specimens of the spotted lanternfly in Massachusetts, and they are now urging residents to report any sign of the invasive pest.

The specimens were recovered in Milford and Norwood, and arrived on materials shipped from parts of Pennsylvania that are now under a spotted lanternfly quarantine. MDAR has also been told that nursery stock with egg masses and adult insects may have been unintentionally imported and planted in parts of Massachusetts.

Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive sap-feeding insect from Asia that was first found in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2014. While the pest's main host plant is tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), spotted lanternfly attacks a variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, and has the potential to damage a broad range of agricultural commodities, including apples, peaches, grapes and wine, and maple syrup. It also has the potential to hurt the ornamental nursery industry.

The state's agriculture department is urging anyone who has received goods or materials --  such as plants, landscaping materials, or outdoor furniture -- from a state with a known infestation to carefully check the materials, including any packaging, for signs of the invasive insect. Currently, there are known infestations in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

If you think you've detected signs of the invasive pest, you should take a photo or collect the specimen. Then report your sighting using MDAR’s online reporting form. People should look for large, gray insects, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings, or inch-long, rectangular yellowish-brown egg masses covered with a gray waxy coating. Egg masses can be found on any flat surface.

Agriculture Commissioner John LeBeaux says there are many ways the spotted lanternfly can travel from state to state, including on vehicles, and that early detection is important in stopping the spread.

“We ask anyone who may have received shipments of wood, ornamental plants, or any other materials from Pennsylvania or other Northeastern states to help protect the natural resources and agricultural industries of Massachusetts by checking for and reporting any signs of spotted lanternfly,” LeBeaux said.

No live lanternflies have yet been found in Massachusetts. As a precaution, surveys are planned in the areas where the insects were found, to confirm that no live populations are present. A dead lanternfly was found in the Boston area in December of 2018.

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