Rhode Island on guard against invasive, damaging lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Islanders should be on the lookout for a brightly colored invasive insect that could threaten trees and crops.

The spotted lanternfly has been found in Connecticut and Massachusetts and state environmental officials said Friday it may only be a matter of time before it turns up in the Ocean State.

Native to Asia, the spotted lanternfly feeds on maple, walnut and willow trees and crops such as grapes, apples and hops.

Experts from the state’s Department of Environmental Management and University of Rhode Island are surveying vineyards and other areas that might attract the insect. Of particular interest: an invasive tree known as the ‘tree of heaven’ that is a favorite host for the lanternfly.

“In Rhode Island, more than 800 acres of agricultural lands including vineyards, orchards and berry farms are at risk,” said Cynthia Kwolek, a state environmental expert working on the survey.

Adults boast spotted wings with bright scarlet underwings and yellow marks on its abdomen. The state says the inch-long insects are active from August until the first hard freeze of the fall.

Rhode Islanders are encouraged to inspect outdoor furniture and firewood for lanternflies or their eggs, and to report sightings to the Department of Environmental Management.

©The Associated Press 2020

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island