DEM to spray areas of spotted lanternfly infestation, says RI must ‘move aggressively’

Monday, September 19, 2022

View larger +

DEM is taking action to control the spotted lanternfly (pictured) in RI. PHOTO: USDA

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that it will begin treating pockets of Spotted Lantern Fly (SLF) infestation that have been found along Douglas Pike (Route 7) in Smithfield with insecticides weather permitting on Wednesday, September 21.


Applicators using knapsack sprayers with wands will “contact” bifenthrin, a pesticide approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, directly on trees and bushes with significant numbers of adult lanterns.


About the treatment

This type of treatment kills invasive pests on contact and has been used effectively in Pennsylvania and other mid-Atlantic states that have been threatened by SLF, which feeds on plant sap using drippings. a piercing mouthpiece and targets an extremely wide range of agricultural crops and trees. species.

The DEM announced on August 22 that it had found the state’s first SLF population along the Douglas Pike Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the detection. DEM scientists have spent the past three weeks surveying the area to assess infestation levels.

According to DEM, the planned pesticide treatment is “not a large-scale operation”. The project team will likely consist of two contract pesticide applicators working two to three weeks focusing on several of the worst infested spots on the map shown on the previous page. DEM Agriculture and Forestry Environment Division staff will notify businesses and landowners before spraying takes place.

DEM says that because this insect is a hitchhiker and SLF adults do not overwinter, it has a narrow treatment window and prioritizes treatment by focusing resources on affected areas along pathways. high-volume transport where there is a greater chance that SLF adults will hop on a car or truck and move.

Additionally, DEM also points out that this is an initial treatment in a finished area. Based on the experience of other states with established SLF populations, SLF will likely spread to other areas of Rhode Island. Depending on the spread and the severity of the damage caused, much greater pest control treatments may be required in the future.

“Rhode Island needs to move aggressively into the small area where the spotted lanternfly was found to control the occurrence before it spreads widely and causes significant economic damage, as it has done in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states,” said DEM Director Terry. Grey. “Severe SLF infestations around the state could jeopardize thousands of acres of orchards, berry crops, vineyards and nurseries that are the source of people’s livelihoods and contribute to our food supply. We use a federally registered pesticide that the EPA has determined is safe when used according to label directions. Our licensed, state-insured applicators are trained to effectively apply these products while protecting the environment and non-target species.

View larger +

Dotted red circles and circular shapes indicate ¼ mile radii around positive spotted lanternfly detections along the Douglas Pike Corridor in Smithfield, just across the North Providence and Lincoln lines. PICTURE: USDA

Find out more about the SLF

Despite its name, SLF is not a fly but a leafhopper. SLF adults tend to fly to new trees to feed in late summer. The adult female insect lays her eggs in the fall. Adults do not survive the winter, unlike egg masses. Typically about an inch long and resembling a trail of mud, egg masses can contain up to 50 eggs and are laid on trees, rocks, and anything outdoors, such as pallets , boats, trailers, garden furniture, recreational vehicles and firewood.

Although APHIS and institutions, including PennState Extension, are currently working to develop organic practices for the management of SLF, “the most effective control measure to date is the use of insecticides,” says PennState. Extension in a guidance document on lanterns. Currently, there are no known natural enemies of SLF that are expected to reduce populations in the United States. Some generalist predators such as spiders, praying mantises, parasitoids, and birds will attack and eat SLF, but cannot be considered an effective large-scale biological control.

Bifenthrin is EPA-approved and safe for people, says DEM. Applicators will follow all product label requirements and avoid spraying flowering plants to protect pollinators. Also, as the product is known to be toxic to fish, no spray will be applied near water. SLF was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has established populations in 14 states including Rhode Island. It is a threat to many fruit crops such as apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, hops, nectarines, peaches and plums as well as maples, oaks, pines, poplars, sycamores, walnut trees and willows.

SLF does not fly long distances, but it is a capable hitchhiker. DEM advises that if members of the public find a single SLF or a population of SLFs, spot, crush and send the sightings to To learn more about the SLF, visit DEM’s Agricultural Pest Alerts website or the URI website.

Like this article ? Share it with others.

Comments are closed.