State forestry officials are trying to wipe out the winter moth, a leaf-chomping pest that attacks fruit orchards and ornamental trees.
Winter moths originating in Europe gained a foothold in Massachusetts in the late 1990s and have spread outward, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Bruce Payton, deputy chief of the state's Forest Environment Division, said the moths were concentrated in places like Tiverton and Bristol a few years ago but can now be found all over Rhode Island, WPRI.com reported.
The moths can quickly defoliate and kill trees like oak, maple, ash, basswood, elm, beech, and fruit.
Forestry officials recently introduced Cyzenis albicans, an insect that preys on winter moths. It could take "several years" for the predator to reproduce enough to put a dent in the winter moth population.
In the meantime, forestry officials are asking the public to report areas of trees that are heavily deforested, which is a calling card of the winter moth.
Reports can be made to Payton at email@example.com.