PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some people may have started to notice the return of a pesky, but also destructive, insect in the region: the spotted lanternfly.
Researchers working out of the University of Delaware are actively studying a solution to control the bug's population.
Cue the spotted lanternfly's natural enemies: parasitic wasps.
Joe Kaser is a biological science technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
He says the spotted lanternfly has no natural predators in the United States. However, two wasps in Asia do know how to handle this infestation.
"One is called an egg parasitoid," Kaser explained. "Parasitoid is a term for these insects that lay their eggs on or in a host organism, and then complete their development in them and eventually kill them in the process."
"This is happening all the time in nature but at a very small scale. These types of insects can be really important in regulating their host populations and keeping them low," he continued.
The other type of wasp attacks the lanternflies in the nymph stage, basically when they're babies, he explained.
Researchers at the University of Delaware are now studying these two wasps in a controlled environment.
"Right now, we're in the process of doing the risk assessment," Kaser said. "It's a multi-year process to see if these wasps would be effective at controlling the spotted lanternfly here."
Spotted lanternflies are proving to be a serious risk to agriculture, officials say. They have the potential to cause more than $500 million in damage to crops, especially grapes and vineyards.
Officials also say that the experiments are showing promise so far, and these wasps do not sting.