The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that the spotted lanternfly (SLF), an exotic pest that targets various plants and trees, has been detected for the first time in Rhode Island. Native to Asia, SLF is most commonly associated with "Tree of Heaven" (Ailanthus altissima) plants and also feeds on a wide variety of agricultural crops such as grape, apple and hops; and several native species of plants and trees including maple, walnut and willow.
A single SLF was found in an industrial/commercial area in Warwick near Jefferson Blvd, and a photo of the insect was sent to DEM through its online agricultural pest alert system. DEM's Division of Agriculture confirmed the sighting on August 2 and is asking the public to report any suspected sightings at www.dem.ri.gov/spottedlanternfly. No known population of SLF is currently present in this area. DEM will be conducting an extensive survey of the area based on US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations to determine if there is any further presence of the invasive insect and will be providing outreach materials to businesses in the area.