Look Who Eats Spotted Lanternflies!

Spotted lanternfly in Pittsburgh, 23 July 2022 (photo by CBailey via Wikimedia Commons)

11 September 2022

Ever since spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) made their disgusting appearance this July in Pittsburgh we’ve been crushing and smashing them, but it’s clear that we humans can barely make a dent in the population. Most of the bugs fly way above our heads and land high in the trees. We can’t reach them but someone else can.

Foot about to crush a spotted lanternfly (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Spotted lanternflies are completely new to North America’s native species, but the bugs look like food so Nature is stepping in to eat them. Predation results are far more successful than our smashing.

Who eats spotted lanternflies? You can see their photos in the Creative Commons licensed iNaturalist group: Spotted Lanternfly Predation in the U.S. Most entries are from New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia. (Hey, Pittsburgh, post yours too!) Here are just a few examples.

Below, a great crested flycatcher eats a spotted lanternfly in Central Park, NYC. This photo was also tweeted by its author Hector Cordero (@CorderoNature).

Great crested flycatcher eating spotted lanternfly, Central Park NYC (Creative Commons photo by corderonature via iNaturalist)

A red-bellied woodpecker plucks a spotted lanternfly off a dead snag in Philadelphia.

Red-bellied woodpecker eating a spotted lanternfly (Creative Commons photo by tb_wildlife_photography via iNaturalist)

Many spiders eat the lanternfly. Here’s one wrapped in webbing in New Jersey.

The author of this photo in New Castle, Delaware says “Spotted lanternfly being consumed (violently) by a yellowjacket.”

Yellowjacket eating spotted lanternfly (Creative Commons photo by jfrancismd via iNaturalist)

Hooray for praying mantis! “A mantis devouring a spotted lanternfly in Staten Island NY.”

Praying mantis eating spotted lanternfly (Creative Commons photo by britty705 via iNaturalist)

Oh my! A fungus — Icing Sugar Fungus (Beauveria bassiana) — is consuming this lanternfly near Allentown, PA.

Icing sugar fungus on spotted lanternfly, near Allentown PA (Creative Commons photo by cecildomyiidae via iNaturalist)

Remember: Don’t spray pesticides to combat the spotted lanternfly. You don’t want to poison the helpers!

Read more about U.S. predators of the spotted lanternfly at Audubon.org: Birds Are One Line of Defense Against Dreaded Spotted Lanternfly.

UPDATE 18 Sep 2022, this post has attracted many new readers & commenters and has prompted this NOTE TO COMMENTERS –> Comments on this blog are moderated. If you post a comment that is profane or could inflame others, I will edit it or delete it.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons and iNaturalist; click on the captions to see the originals)

47 thoughts on “Look Who Eats Spotted Lanternflies!

  1. My neighbor recently got some chickens and they apparently have a good appetite for them as well. Unfortunately, the idea of releasing 1000 or even just 100 chickens on Market Square isn’t as quick and uncomplicated solution as we’d like. YIKES the consequences beyond dead lanternflies. Two weeks ago in a 10 minute walk around downtown I saw more lanternflies every 20 feet than I’d seen the previous two years – not cool.

    1. Yow! I had no idea Downtown was swamped. I’ve seen them fly into Oakland from the north (probably the shortcut from Downtown). At first they were on Craig Street at Fifth. Now they’re as far south as the museum.

    2. For trees, I have using 3″wide Gorilla tape since 6/1/22 and it has worked extremely well with the sticky side out. The PA State Dept. of Agriculture has been outstandingly useless!!! They say just to squash them & they don’t fly which is BS! Whether gliding or flying, these bugs do just that. Finally, Complete Insect Killer really works to kill these damn bugs.

    3. The tape works on the lanternflies but can also trap birds if it is not covered to prevent them from landing/walking on it.

  2. My continued attacks on the early stages of the little beasts apparently helped a lot. I sprayed them with white vinegar. Considering that the bugs were all over the place I have only seen a few adults.

    1. I agree that spraying them with a Cleaning Vinegar solution helped. I’ve also observed an increase in assassin bugs in my yard, which also supposedly eat them. I also read that Cardinals were wearing them and I’ve heard them in my yard a lot more frequently this year. It just takes nature a little while to adapt to them as a new food source, but every one that we squash or kill still helps. I’m totally against using pesticides against them, and the use of those tape traps. There are a lot of other animals that get caught in those and it’s a very painful way for them to die.

  3. Using a 1lb. Bottle propane torch with a pull trigger makes it easy to get them. Short blasts gets them off my twisted willow, and in their early stages I get hundreds of nymphs.

    1. I’ve spray the spotted lantern flies with a water & Dawn dish liquid solution. And they drop to the ground ready for squishing.

  4. I use a pump spray gallon with Dawn detergent and a half a of vegetable oil and the rest I fill up with water I pump spray it I spray the lanterns they fly like crazy soon as they land they fall over and that’s the end of I kill at least 200 a week

    1. I read that also. Plus they say white vinger will immediately kill them too
      I was in Oakland today(Pgh.Pa) they were all over the place dead on the ground. What killed them I don’t know, but told the manager of the store they needed to clean them up, horrible nesty bugs.

  5. A fly swatter is an excellent way to get rid of the varmits I was able to knock the nymphs down and then give them a extra slap, also the last molt and the adults are easier to put out of action. Also swimming pools attract them to a quick drowning. After all this I have less and less showing up during the day.

  6. I was on Manasquan’s dog beach a few weeks ago and noticed them seemingly coming in with the waves. The ones we didn’t squash, the little crabs grabbed and ate. Wonderful sight!

  7. Why refer to Lanternflies as disgusting? They’re part of nature and they’re actually quite beautiful. These poor creatures didn’t ask to be imported to N. America—humans inadvertently brought them here. So don’t hate the innocent Lanternfly! Have faith that Nature will balance out their numbers. I live adjacent to Berks County, PA where they are said to have first appeared and we’ve had them for 5 or 6 years now. This year, I’ve definitely noticed a drop in their population, compared to the last 5 or 6 years. So give it time, live and let live, and see if Nature balances it out 🙂

    1. I get that they are one of God’s creatures. but if they continued to infest PA alone could loose MILLION$ of Dollar$ in agriculture. just imagine what that will do to the cost of produce?

    2. Because they kill fruit trees, Maple trees and vegatable plants. Unless you’re okay with them destroying food crops?

    3. They are getting smart. We don’t see any, but my car has evidence of their waste matter. So they are staying in the tops of the tree.

    4. Easier said than done Beth when they destroy your trees and you have to have them cut down – I am not ‘living’ with that.

  8. I use water/Blue Dawn dish detergent mixture in a spray bottle. Just a little bit of dawn goes along way. Kills them within a few minutes

  9. I purchased several Bug a Salt Rifles n have them strategically placed around my property. I shoot them right out of the air. Especially the aggressive ones. So between keeping your bird feeders fully stocked with birdseed n an extra container of table salt laying around that should really do the trick. No need to poison yourself or the environment.

    1. Mark, I hope it won’t happen. That’s why I ended the article with “Remember: Don’t spray pesticides to combat the spotted lanternfly. You don’t want to poison the helpers!”

    2. Lantern’s bugs are all over Wood Ridge, New Jersey. They are laying eggs and the baby’s fly all over like little fruit flies and land all over your clothes and hair. It’s disgusting. Don’t use vinegar or bud spray, it kills the other bugs and birds that eat them!!!!

  10. Keep squashing them, Pittsburgh. Here near Reading where they first invaded we’re nearly free of them compared with 2019. Best!

    1. Lana, that’s certainly good news. I was just in Lebanon County at Second Mountain Hawk Watch and they were flying everywhere up there. 🙁

  11. None upstate here so far…. I moved from N.E philly last year and it was really bad there off Broad and Allegheny. So far so good ….

  12. I also read that if you are going to swat/squash it, come from behind it as it can see you coming at it and jump/fly away from you. Someone else told me that after it jumps a few times, it tires out and it’s easier to smash it. I have not seen but a few in Allentown, PA.

    1. Crystal, check out the photo at the top of this article. They are large — about as long as the last joint on your thumb. There will be no doubt when you see them.

    2. I’ve been trapping them and have killed hundreds. The traps have no lure — they take advantage of the SLF’s natural inclination to climb. You can buy traps from the on-line retailer named after a South American River or make your own. Directions on the Penn State Extension website.

  13. I also learned that they can’t jump backwards so come at them from the front. Also you can buy praying mantis pods on Amazon and put them around your property. My son swears by them.

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