The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that is regarded as one of the most damaging insect pests to trees and other forms of vegetation within the northeast United States. Despite their environmentally destructive activity, these insects often originate from within or near people’s homes, as they are sometimes contained within indoor and outdoor potting plants that originate from the insect’s native Asian habitat.
Late last month, a dead spotted lanternfly specimen was spotted on a houseplant in Boston, prompting state officials to publicly request that residents keep their eyes peeled for the presence of these insects within indoor houseplants. Although the spotted lanternfly has been spotted causing damage to fruit crops in other northeast US states, last month’s surprise specimen was the first to be discovered within the state of Massachusetts. Officials are hoping that this specimen will be the last of its species to be found within the state, but considering that the insect is now spreading to new areas of the US, this insect is likely to turn up within houseplants again within Massachusetts.
Unlike the Asian longhorned beetle, which is another environmentally damaging invasive insect pest that is spreading in the northeast, the spotted lanternfly is particularly problematic, as these insects will lay their eggs on just about any type of surface material. For instance, these insects have been found on the cushioning of outdoor patio furniture, beneath rocks, on crushed stone, on rebar and they have even been known to attach themselves to vehicles. While state officials are not necessarily worried about a growing presence of this insect in Massachusetts, they believe it is better to be safe than sorry, especially since quarantine zones for this insect have been declared within three other northeastern states.
The spotted lanternfly can also cause problems in homes and yards, as these insects swarm and leave behind sticky excrement that has been known to render furniture, play equipment and a variety of other objects unusable. This insect’s sugary excrement also attracts ants, mosquitoes and a host of other insect pests into homes. Massachusetts residents who are in possession of poinsettia plants are urged to be extra mindful of this insect’s presence, as the dead specimen was found on one of these plants that had been imported from China.
Do you believe that the spotted lanternfly will spread throughout Massachusetts?