Invasive bug goes viral for hitching ride on Christmas trees

It's colorful to look at unless it's hatching in your house!  The spotted lantern fly has become a big problem for crops in some mid-Atlantic states, and now is making headlines for clinging to Christmas trees in those infested areas.

Boston 25 news reporter Jim Morelli spoke to local tree sellers to find out what you should do to make sure you're not bringing home unwanted holiday guests in your tree.

Lovell's Nursery in Medfield says you’re not likely to find unwanted critters lurking in their branches, because they’re careful about where they source their trees.

“You can see how clean it is, this is from Canada,” said Jay Cebroski, a Lovell’s tree seller for 30 years. “They're from reputable growers and they are treated for insects. You don't want to get it from the guy who sets up in the parking lot who's not gonna be there next week.”

Where the tree comes from is key:

The invasive spotted lanternfly made its way to Pennsylvania within the last decade from Asia.
Since then, it has been reported in six other states, including its first sighting in New England in Connecticut this fall.

“Spotted lanternfly is a huge threat, especially to our specialty crops,” said Heather Leach, A Spotted Lantern Fly Extension Associate with Penn State.  She says the insect attacks fruit trees and grape vines, reducing sap and promoting the growth of mold.

Agriculture officials in Pennsylvania are working to contain the pest and say though Christmas trees aren't a popular host, any vegetation from that area could be a carrier.

“We think it's a really low risk, but we do encourage people when they're buying their Christmas tree to check for any type of insect,” Leach added.

Don't buy trees sources from affected areas
Shake trees to dislodge any insects or egg sacs
Look for egg sacks under the foliage. Spotted lanternfly sacs look like a slot of mud on the trunk.
If you find a spotted lanternfly, report it to the state here.
Never spray your tree with pesticides, it can increase the fire risk.

You can find more information here.