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The spotted lanternfly is native to India, China and Vietnam, but during the 2000s, the insect established an invasive habitat in South Korea, where its destructive activity led to a massive reduction of fruit-bearing trees and other valuable crop yields. Unfortunately, American officials discovered the pests in Pennsylvania in 2014, and since then it has spread to several other northeast states, including New York, New Jersey and Virginia. Despite an aggressive quarantine program, the invasive pest was identified within a potted plant at a Boston residence four months ago. Luckily, the specimen was found dead. Since this discovery, Massachusetts officials have been urging residents to inspect their trees thoroughly for the damaging pest’s presence. If a resident should find a spotted lanternfly on a property, he/she should capture and kill it before placing the specimen/s within a jar containing alcohol in order to have it properly handled by a professional. Although the spotted lanternfly infests numerous tree and plant species, the insect has a particular taste for a tree species commonly known as “the tree of heaven” which is native to southern Asia. Anyone who possesses one or more of these trees may want to contact a pest controller in order to have a preventative pest treatment conducted. It should also be noted that this species is capable of causing damage and mold growth to any object located within a property, including cars, decks and the roofs of houses.

Spotted lanternfly adults consume the sap from trees before excreting the sap in the form of honeydew which rapidly becomes moldy. This sticky and foul-smelling honeydew can then drip onto cars, decks, patio furniture and the roofs of houses from tree branches. Adult lanternflies then place their eggs on any surface where their honeydew can be found, including the household items named above. Removing the honeydew is extraordinarily difficult and unpleasant, and even worse, the honeydew attracts swarms of wasps and bees, which can put residents, especially children and pets, in extreme danger of falling victim to massive envenomation. The eggs are planted on honeydew-stained vehicle surfaces more often than one may think, as quarantine measures in high-risk areas have placed strict controls on where residents can drive their vehicles.

Do you think that the spotted lanternfly will become as abundant as other invasive tree-infesting pests in the northeast, such as gypsy moths and emerald ash borers?