SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is gearing up to treat “pockets of spotted lanternfly infestation” in Smithfield and neighboring communities.

The DEM will begin spraying insecticide along targeted portions of Douglas Pike (Route 7) Wednesday where spotted lanternfly populations have been found. Those portions are in Smithfield, Lincoln and North Providence.

The DEM will be spraying the insecticide directly onto trees and bushes “with substantial numbers of adult lanternflies.”

The state’s second spotted lanternfly and first-known population were both found in Smithfield last month.

The first spotted lanternfly found in Rhode Island was reported back in August 2021, though that sighting was in Warwick.

The DEM said the insecticide will kill the invasive species on contact, and the treatment has been successful in Pennsylvania and other states with known spotted lanternfly populations.

“Rhode Island must move aggressively in the small area where the spotted lanternfly has been found to control the occurrence before its spreads widely and causes considerable economic harm, as it has done in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other states,” DEM Director Terry Gray said. “Serious infestations around the state could jeopardize thousands of acres of orchards, berry crops, vineyards and nursery stock that are the source of people’s livelihoods and contribute to our food supply.”

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Courtesy: RI DEM

The DEM said there is a narrow window for treatment because of the invasive species’ inability to survive the winter months, on top of it being known as a “hitchhiker” that can quickly spread to other communities.

The DEM emphasized that the treatment is not a “large-scale operation,” though the spraying will continue over the next two to three weeks along Douglas Pike specifically.

“Based on the experience of other states with established populations, [the spotted lanternfly] will probably spread to other areas in Rhode Island,” the DEM said. “Depending on the spread and severity of the damage caused, much larger control treatments may be needed in the future.”

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.