Spotted lanternflies are native to China, Vietnam, and India. This insect is about one inch in length and half an inch wide. Its forewings are gray with black spots. However, this insect is most notable for its bright red hindwings covered with black spots.
Spotted lanternflies are considered an invasive species and have been found in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland along with other eastern states in the United States They live in trees and on a variety of plants that contain sap.
After consuming a tree’s sap, spotted lanternflies release a liquid called ‘honeydew.’ This liquid is harmful because it attracts other destructive insects and can weaken a tree’s defenses against mold and disease. Unfortunately, a large group of lanternflies is capable of killing a crop of fruit trees.
So, do spotted lanternflies have predators? These insects don’t have a lot of natural predators, which is why they can multiply quickly and threaten fruit tree crops. Furthermore, the bright red on this insect’s hindwings serves as a warning signal to predators that it’s potentially poisonous. This protects the bug from some threats. However, there are a few predators that eat these hopping insects.
Spotted Lanternfly Predators:
1. Praying Mantis
Praying mantis occupy many of the same areas as spotted lanternflies. A lanternfly eating the sap of a plant would probably not notice a praying mantis sitting on or hanging beneath a nearby leaf. Praying mantis are bright green so they easily blend in with the leaves of many types of plants.
A praying mantis sits and waits for its lanternfly prey to move closer. Then, in one swift movement, it grabs the insect using its spiked front legs. Praying mantis eat lanternflies and other prey with sharp mandibles that easily cut through the flesh of the insect.
Despite its name, the lanternfly hops more than it flies. So, it doesn’t have a real chance of escaping a praying mantis that’s hiding. Praying mantis eat adult lanternflies as well as young lanternflies known as nymphs.
When you think of a group of farmyard chickens, you probably picture them eating seed or cracked corn. But chickens have a reputation for eating lots of different types of insects. Spotted lanternflies are on a chicken’s menu.
Since spotted lanternflies live on fruit trees and several types of plants, it wouldn’t be unusual for a chicken in a farm environment to encounter this insect. A chicken that sees a lanternfly on the ground or on a plant will peck at it with its sharp beak. A large chicken could swallow a whole lanternfly in one gulp. A smaller chicken would be able to swallow lanternfly nymphs.
3. Garden Spiders
Garden spiders and spotted lanternflies live in the same habitat. So, it’s no surprise that these spiders are on their list of predators. A garden spider spins its intricate web between stalks of plants and in other places where insects are plentiful.
The body of a female garden spider can measure a little more than one inch in length. So, they are large enough to subdue a lanternfly that’s become entangled in their circular web.
Once a spotted lanternfly gets caught in its web, the garden spider injects it with venom causing it to stop moving. The spider may wrap the lanternfly in silk to eat later or eat it right away.
4. Gray Catbirds
Gray catbirds are also considered predators of spotted lanternflies. These birds live in meadows, thickets, and trees. This bird’s name is a reflection of its distinctive call that sounds like a cat meowing.
They eat insects as well as berries and different types of small fruit. This makes an encounter with a spotted lanternfly very likely. Gray catbirds can consume adult lanternflies or even a group of lanternfly nymphs on a tree or plant.
5. Yellow Jackets
Yellow jackets are attracted to vegetation with nectar and sap. They move around in the same habitat as spotted lanternflies. Along with nectar, the diet of a yellow jacket includes caterpillars and a variety of insects.
A yellow jacket stings a spotted lanternfly with venom to immobilize it. Then it uses its mandibles to eat the insect. Scientists have observed yellow jackets eating both live and dead spotted lanternflies.
6. Wheel Bugs
Trees, gardens, and meadows are all habitats of the wheel bug. They eat caterpillars, beetles, and other insects. An adult wheel bug can grow as long as one and a quarter inches. It gets its name from the wheel-like appearance of its back.
This big insect captures a spotted lanternfly with its powerful front legs and holds its squirming body until it’s dead. The wheel bug eats by poking its beak into a spotted lanternfly (or other insects) and draining its insides.
7. Garter Snakes
These snakes live in wooded areas, fields, and gardens. They are fast snakes that can easily capture an adult lanternfly or lanternfly nymphs. This small snake grabs a spotted lanternfly in its strong jaws and swallows it whole.
Koi are colorful fish related to carp that can grow to a length of two feet or more — they’re also Spotted Lanternfly predators. People with backyard ponds often stock them with these lively fish. Though the koi in a backyard pond are usually fed food purchased from a store, they also eat insects. They are considered predators of spotted lanternflies. A spotted lanternfly that hops into a backyard pond, or accidentally crash lands into one, will be gobbled up by a koi in a matter of seconds!