EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the population expected to grow, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is urging residents to be on the lookout for the invasive spotted lanternfly.

The first confirmed spotted lanternfly sighting in Rhode Island was reported in August 2021 in Warwick.

The second confirmed sighting was reported nearly one year later, which led the DEM to the state’s first-known population of the invasive species along Route 7 in Smithfield.

Courtesy: RI DEM

The spotted lanternfly can be extremely destructive, according to the DEM, since it targets a wide variety of plants, trees and crops.

Even though the spotted lanternfly has wings and can travel on its own, the DEM said the invasive species typically spreads through its “inconspicuous egg masses.”

The spotted lanternfly’s eggs typically latch onto trees, but can also be found on picnic tables, wooden pallets and firewood.

Anyone who believes they’ve spotted the invasive species should take a photo of the insect, kill it and report it to the DEM immediately.

The DEM requests anyone who finds a spotted lanternfly outside Providence County collect the specimen for verification by placing it in a bag and freezing it or in a jar with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.