SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — An invasive species of insect that consumes various plants and trees may be growing in number in Rhode Island.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said the state’s first-known population of the spotted lanternfly was detected along Route 7 in Smithfield.
There were previously two reported sightings of the exotic pest: one in Warwick last August and another in Smithfield earlier this month.
The DEM is asking the public to help by reporting any spotted lanternfly sightings.
“In Rhode Island, we have about 69,000 acres of agricultural lands, with many of those lands at risk of being infested with SLF including vineyards, orchards, berry crops, and nursery stock,” Senior Environmental Planner Cynthia Kwolek said. “It’s critical that we take the necessary steps to detect and stop the spread of this invasive pest, particularly since it has now been found in our state.”
The DEM said it’s working with URI and the USDA to find ways to minimize the spread.
Anyone who believes they’ve seen a spotted lanternfly is urged to report it to the DEM as soon as possible.
Other communities being impacted by the invasive species have taken more severe measures to prevent the spread, including ‘kill-on-sight’ tactics in New York City.