By Staff

FITCHBURG (CBS) — A bug that looks pretty but can do a lot of damage as an invasive pest has been found in Central Massachusetts. The state Department of Agricultural Resources said Tuesday that a small population of spotted lanternflies was discovered in three trees in Fitchburg.

This is the easternmost sighting of the sap-feeding lanternflies so far.

“While MDAR has not been able to determine the origin of the infestation, spotted lanternflies have been known to travel out of infested states on cars, trucks, and trains, during shipments of produce, sheds, and gazebos, trees and shrubs for landscaping, and many other items that are regularly sent from states with known infestations,” the state said.

Spotted Lanternfly ( Photo Credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Other states, including New York, have asked people to kill the lanternfly if they come across one. Massachusetts is asking residents to report sightings of the insects with spotted, bright red wings.

Click here to report spotted lanternfly sightings online

“The spotted lanternfly can have devastating impacts on Massachusetts’ agricultural industry, including on a number of farms and orchards in this part of the state that we want to protect from this pest,” MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux said in a statement. “Early detection and reporting is the best way to slow the spread of spotted lanternfly. Members of the public, particularly those in the Fitchburg area, have seen this pest, they are asked to report it as soon as possible.”

Anyone in Massachusetts who comes across an insect that they suspect is the lanternfly should “take a photo or collect the specimen,” and report the sighting via an online reporting form.

The lanternfly, native to Asia, was first discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. Staff