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Spotted lanternflies have been spotted near Boston

What you need to know & how to kill the bugs.

JQ Louise
Tanya Edwards
Edited by
JQ Louise
Written by
Tanya Edwards

Gross news, there’s an invasive species in town and we should all hate it so much.

Yes, the invasive spotted lanternfly, which has been plaguing New York City all summer, made its way to the greater Boston area this week. An infestation has been found in Wellesley, officials announced late last week. 

Wellesley received word this week from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) of an infestation near Carisbrooke Reservation, reports NBC News Boston.

What is a spotted lanternfly? 

Spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula or “SLF”), while not new to the Bay State, are being found in more communities across the Commonwealth. The spotted lanternfly was first found in the United States in Pennsylvania in September 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Native to China, these creepy crawlies can actually be very devastating to the ecosystem and agriculture here in the U.S.

Why are spotted lanternflies so bad?

The bugs feed on plant sap, which causes a lot of damage to plants, especially grapes, as well as  maple trees, hops, blueberries and over 100 other host plants, according to the Department of Agricultural Resources. They also excrete a sticky waste product that coats everything around them, which ferments, grows fungus and smells, apparently. 

With all these charming attributes, you’re probably wondering what you can do. A note from our friends in NYC, who’ve been dealing with these bugs: Kill them. Immediately. Also, destroy their eggs. 

What does a spotted lanternfly look like?

Here’s what you should be looking for: Adult lanternflies are approximately one-inch long and ½-inch wide at rest, with spotted wings. The top part of the wings are usually grayish, and dotted with black spots. The lower portions of their hindwings are red with black spots and the upper portions are dark with a white stripe.

What do spotted lanternfly eggs look like?

These bugs can lay a lot of eggs, and females can lay multiple egg masses a year, from July to September. In Pennsylvania's infestation, it was about 200 eggs per tree. You’ll find them on tree trunks, rocks, firewood, cars, pretty much anywhere, and they are smooth, brownish gray and have a shiny, waxy coating.

How do you kill a spotted lanternfly?

Consider this permission to squish the pests, which we don’t want spreading across the country. California wine country could be potentially devastated by an infestation, costing millions of jobs (and millions of pours of a nice oaky Chard).

The mantra out of NYC is, “If you see it, squish it,” and we should all get on board with that. Note, they tend to jump around a bit so it can be tough to catch them. Be warned, because they suck plant juice, the bugs themselves tend to be juicy, like a grape. 

How do you get rid of lanternfly eggs?

If you’re not already completely grossed out, we’ve got more! Apparently, the best way to get rid of these bugs is before they hatch, which means tossing the eggs in garbage bags and killing them with alcohol before putting the whole thing in the trash. 

Finally, these bugs are travelers, so check your car and bike for any bugs or eggs before traveling, to make sure you’re not helping spread the infestation.

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