EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A spotted lanternfly was found in the area of Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick on Aug. 2, marking the first time the invasive species has been detected in Rhode Island, according to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
For the past few months, researchers have been concerned about its anticipated arrival since the state is home to many of the insects’ preferred hosts.
While the spotted lanternfly has established populations in other states like Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland, there is no known population in the Warwick area.
Lisa Tewksbury, an entomologist at the University of Rhode Island, said even though it was a single spotted lanternfly and not an infestation, it’s only a matter of time before more could potentially arrive.
She and her team plan to conduct more research since the invasive species is one of the most imminent threats to local agriculture.
Environmental officials have been urging the public to keep an eye out for these pesky insects throughout the summer and into the fall.
If you think you’ve seen a spotted lanternfly, you can report it to the DEM using this online form.