BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is asking the public to keep an eye out for the invasive pest known as the spotted lantern during the spring planting season due to the risk of egg masses being accidentally introduced during shipments of trees imported from other states. MDAR recently received reports that nursery stock from SLF-infested areas may have been sent to growers in Massachusetts. For this reason, anyone who has recently purchased or planted trees or shrubs on their property, especially maples or crabapples, is encouraged to inspect the trunk and branches to ensure there are no no SLF egg masses or hitchhiking nymphs, and to report any findings to MDAR. Landscapers and nurserymen are also advised to be on the lookout for this pest.
“The spotted lantern is a difficult pest to control, as it can be very difficult to detect before it becomes established,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “With the potential impact of this pest on grape and hop growers, as well as U-pick orchards and other parts of the agri-tourism industry, we ask anyone with newly planted trees to check for signs of SLF and report it. if they find it, so that we can limit the spread of this pest in our state.
In addition to the agricultural impacts it causes, the spotted lantern has the potential to negatively impact outdoor activities due to the swarming behavior of this pest when adults appear in late summer. SLF egg masses are about an inch and a half long and are flat and gray in color, making them difficult to detect, especially on tree bark. For this reason, any SLF may not be noticed until the nymphs hatch in late May or early June. The public is invited to look for small black insects marked with white dots. If grapes or celestial trees are in the area, they will migrate to these plants.
The spotted lantern is a sap-feeding insect that has caused significant impacts on vineyards, orchards, and other agricultural products in states where it has become established. SLF not only harms grapevines, maples, hops, blueberries and more than 100 other host plants, but has been observed to impact outdoor recreation in other states where populations are high and where adult lanterns swarm in large numbers during the mating season. If you see any signs of Mottled Lantern, please report it to MDAR at https://massnrc.org/pests/slf.