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Stow may not have a Dunkin’, but it does have the invasive spotted lanternfly

Fortunately there's just been one spotted so far.

A spotted lanternfly at a vineyard in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Matt Rourke / AP, File
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Poor Stow, Massachusetts. First it lost both of its Dunkin’ locations. Then it became nationally known for being the town that lost both of its Dunkin’ locations, to the point where they had to respond with a video explaining all the things they do have. 

And now, after all that, they have something they don’t actually want: the spotted lanternfly.

If you’re the type who follows important etymological developments, you know that the spotted lanternfly is a highly invasive species of insect native to Asia, first found in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. Here in Massachusetts, the striking bug first made local headlines last year when an infestation was found in a cluster of trees in Fitchburg.

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And now they’re in Stow, according to the Stow Conservation Department — or at least one of them was, discovered Tuesday by a local resident picking grapes on town conservation land. 

“There is no known infestation in Stow at this time, however residents are encouraged to take a few minutes to look for this large colorful insect which is a major pest for the fruit crop and wine industry,” the department noted in a Facebook post.

Were the lanternflies to be fruitful and multiply, that could be a big problem for the people of Stow, who — in their video response to the WBZ story about their Dunkin’ Desert status — noted that the town is practically overflowing with orchards and farms. That’s good for the apple cider doughnut supply, bad for offering up tasty pickings that might entice enterprising spotted lanternflies.

Stow is not the first place in Massachusetts to see the lanternfly this year; in fact, the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources announced an infestation in Springfield in August. But despite some reports when the insect initially arrived on U.S. soil that citizens should plan to engage in unfettered destruction of the creatures, it seems that’s since been determined inadvisable.

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State environmental biologist Jennifer Forman Orth told Boston.com after the Fitchburg infestation last year that a massive campaign to squash the bugs could prove disastrous for similar-looking yet harmless insects who might get caught up in the public’s wanton bloodlust. (We’re paraphrasing.) Instead, anyone who spots what they think might be a spotted lanternfly should report it to the state online through the Introduced Pests Outreach Project. 

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