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Meet the spotted lanternfly's natural predators

Birds and arthropods have been spotted snacking on the invasive bug.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Editors note: The above video is from June 2. 

For several years, the invasive spotted lanternfly had no known natural predators, which greatly helped its rapid invasion of Pennsylvania

However, as more research has come to light surrounding the bugs, there are actually several animals who like making a meal of the pest. 

According to a study from Penn State University, the public has aided them in finding several predators for the bug. Chickens, cardinals, praying mantises, ants, wasps, and spiders have all been reported and captured eating the invasive species. 

The bugs aren't the main diet of these predators, but they're generalists that are making use of a rapidly increasing and abundant food source, according to experts

One known predator that has been spotted increasingly snacking on the lanternflies is the wheel bug

If you've never heard of these predators, they're typically found in Southwest Pennsylvania, but they've become more common throughout the state within the past decade. 

This bug has a piercing beak-type mouth. They will lay eggs right next to spotted lanternfly egg masses. Since the wheel bug hatches first, they will sit and wait for the spotted lanternfly eggs to hatch. A quick and free meal!

Researchers are interested in finding and encouraging the growth of natural enemies to the lanternfly. 

Like planting pollinator gardens, which are gardens designed to attract pollinators like bees, several wildflowers will attract assassin bugs that will then, hopefully, prey on lanternflies. 

If you spot a bird or bug eating a spotted lanternfly, you're encouraged to report it to Penn State researchers on the Birds Biting Bad Bugs Facebook page or by emailing birdsbitingbadbugs@gmail.com. 

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