WASHINGTON—As the invasive species continues its spread along the East Coast and threatens fruit production and logging across the country, federal officials announced Tuesday they would escalate their campaign against spotted lanternflies by arming local praying mantises. “Following a sustained and coordinated attack against this dangerous lanternfly, it has become clear that human beings alone cannot purge this enemy from American soil,” said Department of Agriculture spokesperson Nora Jennings, divulging that a team of elite praying mantises had already received heavy artillery training from U.S. special forces, and were now drafting their fellow predatory arthropods to join them in the fight against the spotted menace on the ground. “The U.S.D.A. will immediately deploy more than 6,000 armed mantises that have been given strict instructions to annihilate the invaders by any means necessary. Our hope is that highly proficient Mantidae snipers will be able to take out every last lanternfly combatant from a safe distance, totally undetected. However, the enemy has already infiltrated our cities, and civilians are advised to take immediate cover to avoid being caught in the crossfire should hostilities erupt over a small patch of sidewalk.” Jennings went on to promise her department had learned from mistakes made in the 1980s, when it attempted to counter a spongy-moth invasion by backing armed bands of parasitic wasps that later went rogue and seized control of several mid-Atlantic states.