What Are the Natural Predators of the Lanternfly?

lanternfly© JanaShea / Getty Images / Canva

The lanternfly is an invasive species that has been causing problems for farmers and homeowners in Pennsylvania. However, a recent study from the Penn State University has found that the lanternfly may have met its match in the form of some of the state’s most common predators.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has been working to control the lanternfly population. They have been trapping and killing these insects, and they are also working on developing a biological control for the lanternfly. The goal is to reduce the lanternfly population so that they do not cause any more damage to crops.

Researchers at Penn State, working with the Commonwealth, are finding and encouraging the growth of natural enemies to the lanternfly in order to help control its population. One way to do this is by planting wildflowers that will attract assassin bugs, which will then hopefully prey on lanternflies.

Anne Johnson, a graduate student from Kelli Hoover’s lab in Penn State’s Department of Entomology, is conducting research on toxin sequestration in spotted lanternflies and its effects on predator-prey interactions.

“We hypothesize that spotted lanternfly can take in and store bitter-tasting chemical compounds from its preferred host, tree of heaven, and use these to defend itself from predation,” says Johnson, whose work will contribute to our understanding of the lanternfly’s biology and could lead to more effective methods of controlling its spread.

Chickens, cardinals, praying mantises, ants, wasps, and spiders have all been reported and captured eating the lanternfly. The public has played a vital role in helping to track down these predators, and the information gathered will be used to develop more effective lanternfly control measures. In the meantime, these natural predators are helping to keep the lanternfly population in check and protect Pennsylvania’s plants and crops.

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If you spot a bird, or bug, eating a lanternfly, you’re encouraged to report it to Penn State researchers on the Birds Biting Bad Bugs Facebook page or email [email protected]. This information will help researchers understand what natural enemies are effective at controlling lanternfly populations and where they are located.

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