You’ve likely heard about the spotted lanternfly that has made its way to the U.S. from China.
It was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014 -- believed to be traveling on shipments of stone from China -- and it’s been devouring at least 70 tree species, in addition to shrubs and ornamentals, since it arrived. It’s also spreading, having been spotted in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia as well.
When spotted lanternflies first arrived, they seemed to have free reign; nothing was slowing them down. It didn’t seem like they had any natural predators here, making their invasion scarier. Not only did it eat trees, but it also left a sticky honeydew substance all over.
But now, as entomologists continue to learn about the pest, they are finding there are some spotted lanternfly predators here that can help. Let’s learn more about these potential heroes so you can enjoy your backyard lanternfly-free again.
In China, a certain type of parasitic wasp (Dryinus browni) helps keep spotted lanternflies in check. But the U.S. doesn’t have that wasp specifically.
So Penn State researchers have been conducting research to gather information on spotted lanternfly natural predators that might exist here in the U.S.
Chicken and praying mantises top the list.
The top 5 bird predators include:
The top 5 insect predators include:
Other animals that have been spotted eating this invasive pest include:
However, spotted lanternflies might be getting wise to these predators, according to Penn State’s Department of Entomology. The lanternflies may be capable of sequestering or storing bitter or toxic compounds from plants they feed on, particularly tree of heaven, as a defense against things that want to eat them.
If spotted lanternfly predators aren’t doing the job, there are some things you can do to get rid of spotted lanternfly.
Start by consistently inspecting your property if you’re in one of the states in which the pest has been seen.
Scrape off and destroy any egg masses that you see on your trees, plants, outside furniture or play equipment. These are grayish splotches of mud or mortar/cement areas that are about 1 inch long and ¾ of an inch wide.
To avoid spreading the pest, check your car, truck or trailer for any stowaways before traveling to other counties or states.
If you discover an infestation, call a professional tree care company, or your state agricultural agents if you live in a quarantine area. Seeing a few pests could mean there are hundreds more, so it’s important to note if you see even a couple of them.
Here are some additional tips and information on how to get rid of spotted lanternfly.
Spotted lanternflies use their piercing-sucking mouths to feed on sap from different tree and plant species.
What trees do spotted lanternflies like? Pay attention to these specific trees when scanning your yard looking for the spotted lanternfly:
Remember that healthy trees are the best defense against pests. So keep taking care of your trees to keep them growing strong. If the insect is attacking your trees, your Davey arborist may use an annual insecticide application to control them and save your trees.
If you think you’re outside the current spotted lanternfly area and you see one on your property, contacting your state’s Department of Agriculture is a good idea to help monitor the pest and better control its spread.