Invasive spotted lanternfly egg masses found in Maine

Spotted lanternfly egg mass. PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH SCALLY

AUGUSTA On Sept. 29, the Maine Department of Agricultural, Conservation and Forestry announced finding egg masses of the invasive spotted lanternfly on trees in Maine communities and is urging residents to report any sign of the invasive pest. The egg masses were found on trees from Pennsylvania and planted in Boothbay, Freeport, Northeast Harbor and Yarmouth. DACF urges anyone who received goods or materials, such as plants, landscaping materials or outdoor furniture, from a state with a known spotted lanternfly infestation to check the materials carefully, including any packaging, for signs of the insect. There are currently known populations of spotted lanternfly in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. 

A spotted lanternfly nymph (immature). PHOTO COURTESY OF LAWRENCE BARRINGER

If any life stages of spotted lanternfly are found, residents should take a photo or collect the specimen and report any pest potential sightingto [email protected]. Residents should look for large, gray insects, about 1-inch long, with black spots and red underwings, or inch-long, rectangular yellowish-brown egg masses covered with a gray waxy coating. Egg masses may be found on any flat surface. 

“These most recent finds call attention to the fact that there are many ways that spotted lanternfly can travel here from other states,” said State Horticulturist Gary Fish. “Early detection plays an important role in the protection of our state’s economic and ecological resources from invasive species, and we ask anyone who may have received shipments of wood, ornamental plants or any other materials from Pennsylvania or other Northeastern states to help protect the natural resources and agricultural industries of Maine by checking for and reporting any signs of spotted lanternfly.” 

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive sap-feeding insect from Asia first found in the U.S. in 2014 in Pennsylvania. While the preferred host plant of this pest is tree-of-heavenspotted lanternfly attacks over 100 species of trees, shrubs and vines, and has the potential to impact a broad range of agricultural commodities, including apples, peaches, grapes/wine, maple syrup, as well as the ornamental nursery industry. 

Adult spotted lanterflies.

As many families across the state spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and are undertaking activities such as gardening to improve their outdoor spaces, Maine has seen an increase in purchases of outdoor furniture, play structures, gazebos, trees and shrubs. When shipped from areas with spotted lanternfly infestations, these products, and the vehicles used for transportation, can unintentionally carry the pest into new areas. 

Because no live spotted lanternfly has been found in Maine, there is currently no evidence that they have become established. The DACF Horticulture Program has inspected all the suspect trees and asks the homeowners and landscape companies to keep an eye on the areas where egg masses were found to confirm that no live populations are present. Spotted lanternfly has not previously been found in Maine.  

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