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Invasive tree-eating insect pests have been a major problem in Massachusetts for more than a century. For example, the gypsy moth caterpillar wreaked havoc in Medford before the arrival of the 20th century. The hemlock wooly adelgid is another invasive insect that has destroyed massive amounts of trees in all northeastern states. Luckily, however, another tree-damaging invasive pest in the US, the spotted lanternfly, has not yet become a major problem in Massachusetts, but experts believe that this may soon change, as neighboring states, like Pennsylvania and New York, have seen this pest inflict significant damage to trees in residential yards and forested regions.

This pest species has become well known in most areas of the United States due to their habit of infesting Christmas trees. This became major news during the past few years, as this pest’s taste for Christmas trees make them likely to invade homes, but such instances have not been widely reported. Unfortunately, a spotted lanternfly was found in a Boston home earlier this year, confirming the expert opinion that lanternflies will likely establish in invasive habitat in Massachusetts.

The spotted lanternfly specimen was found dead within a poinsettia house plant in a Boston home. The house plant was shipped to Massachusetts from Pennsylvania, but the plant ultimately originated from the insect’s native China. The discovery of this specimen in the state has prompted agricultural authorities to raise awareness concerning the spotted lanterfly’s destructive habits, and authorities are asking all residents to report sightings immediately.

The invasive insects are known for destroying fruit trees, but spotted lanternflies should be of concern to residents of Massachusetts, as these pests kill trees, shrubs, vines and many ornamental plants by feeding on sap. The insect pests also secrete a “sooty mold” over its surroundings, making spotted lanternflies a nuisance and economically damaging insect pest on residential properties.

Do you believe that the spotted lanternfly has already established an invasive habitat in Massachusetts?