Officials warn of spotted lanternfly infestation in Holyoke

Holyoke officials report that there’s been an infestation of a nuisance insect in the city.
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 11:53 AM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Holyoke officials report that there’s been an infestation of a nuisance insect in the city.

The state’s Department of Agricultural Resources said that the insect, commonly known as the spotted lanternfly, attacks tree-of-heaven, grapes, maple trees, hops vines, and many other types of plants.

“Spotted lanternflies are true “bugs”, specifically, they’re known as plant hoppers, and they’re part of a family we had never seen before in Massachusetts,” said Jennifer Forman Orth of the Department of Agricultural Resources.

It’s not immediately known how the insect got to Holyoke and authorities do not yet know the extent of the infestation.

The spotted lanternfly could impact grape and wine producers and other agricultural commodities, as well as have the potential to interfere with outdoor activities when infestations reach high levels because of the adult spotted lanternfly’s swarming behavior in the late summer and fall.

A perfect name when you realize the invasive species that made its way to western Mass. feeds on over 100 species of plants. Fortunately, not people, according to Forman Orth.

The insect does not bite or sting. Rather, officials said they create a nuisance because they can gather in large numbers near people and cover anything they are on with a sticky, sugary waste called honeydew.

“Spotted lanternflies don’t bite, there’s no immediate harm to humans from them. their mouth parts are made out of straws and they meant to drink the sap out of trees,”

State and federal surveyors will be in Holyoke over the next several weeks to check trees in the area.

People are being asked to report any possible spotted lanternfly sightings to the state by clicking here.

“The goal here is to slow the spread of spotted lantern flies so that folks that need to prepare for its arrival have as much time as they can. that’s not just people that are managing natural land, but also our farmers. the more information we can get from people about where spotted lanternfly is the better chance we have to slow the spread,” said Forman Orth.

For more information on lanternflies in the area click here.