What Birds Eat Lanternflies: A Comprehensive Guide

Spotted lanternflies are an invasive species causing significant damage to trees and crops in the United States. Farmers, gardeners, and even entire ecosystems are searching for ways to control these pests, which thrive in the absence of natural predators. One potential solution to this problem lies in the feeding habits of various bird species.

Several birds have been observed preying on spotted lanternflies, making them an essential part of the fight against these invasive insects. Notable examples include chickens, gray catbirds, great crested flycatchers, and red-bellied woodpeckers, each attracted by the lanternfly’s delectable appearance. As these birds feast on the spotted lanternfly populations, they help to keep their numbers in check and limit the damage inflicted by their rapid spread.

Understanding the relationships between certain bird species and spotted lanternflies is crucial for developing effective control and management strategies. Bird feeding habits and adaptations play a key role in this ecological dynamic, as birds that are naturally inclined to eat insects – like lanternflies – can increase their populations and play a beneficial role in impacted areas.

Key Takeaways

  • Birds, including chickens and gray catbirds, help control spotted lanternfly populations by preying on these invasive insects.
  • Examining bird feeding habits and adaptations can inform effective lanternfly control and management strategies.
  • Birds that eat insects like lanternflies contribute to restoring balance in ecosystems affected by this invasive species.

What Birds Eat Lanternflies?

In this section, we discuss which bird species feed on spotted lanternflies and how these avian predators can limit the explosion of this invasive insect population.

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Chickens are known to consume spotted lanternflies, making them an effective biocontrol agent in areas affected by these pests. Rhode Island Reds, for example, have been observed eating spotted lanternflies, which helps control the insect population in their local environment.

Gray Catbirds

Gray Catbirds are another bird species that feed on spotted lanternflies. Their foraging habits make them efficient predators for controlling the spread of these invasive insects in their native habitats.


Northern Cardinals can also play a role in controlling spotted lanternfly populations. These birds, like Gray Catbirds, are known to consume these invasive insects, helping to maintain the balance in local ecosystems where spotted lanternflies have become a problem.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays likewise contribute to the fight against spotted lanternflies. These birds have a diverse diet, and studies show that they will prey on these insects when available. As a result, Blue Jays can help reduce spotted lanternfly populations in the areas where they are abundant.


Red-bellied Woodpeckers and other woodpecker species are also known to prey on spotted lanternflies. Just like chickens, Gray Catbirds, Northern Cardinals, and Blue Jays, woodpeckers can consume significant amounts of these insects, which helps limit their population growth and mitigate the negative impact on affected ecosystems.

Other Predators and Natural Enemies


A variety of spiders prey on the spotted lanternfly. One notable example is the garden spider, which snatches adult lanternflies in their webs and kills them. Other spiders, such as orbweaver spiders, also play a part in controlling the population of these invasive insects.


Frogs are another type of natural predator that consumes lanternflies. Green frogs have been observed eating these pests, helping to limit their spread.

Garter Snakes

Garter snakes are known to include lanternflies in their diet. These snakes play a valuable role in controlling the population of spotted lanternflies and help to keep them in check.

Parasitic Wasps

Parasitic wasps are among the insects that prey on lanternflies, although their impact on controlling their population appears to be relatively limited. Yellowjackets, a type of parasitic wasp, can also contribute to the reduction of lanternflies’ numbers.

Wheel Bugs

Wheel bugs are another natural enemy of the lanternfly. They are known to be voracious predators that consume a wide variety of insects, including spotted lanternflies. By eating these pests, wheel bugs help to regulate the invasive lanternfly population.

Lanternfly Infestations

Life Stages

Spotted lanternflies go through multiple life stages, starting as eggs laid on surfaces like tree trunks, stones, and other objects. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which are black with white speckles and then turn red during the late nymph stage. Nymphs feed on a variety of plants, causing significant damage. The metamorphosis into their adult form showcases a winged insect with a vibrant and attractive appearance that helps fend off predators.

Quarantine Zones

Due to the rise in spotted lanternfly infestations, certain areas have been designated as quarantine zones to help control their spread. In these zones, measures are taken to limit the movement of the lanternflies and their egg masses, such as inspecting vehicles and outdoor equipment to ensure no live insects or egg masses are transported inadvertently. The quarantine zones are critical in the ongoing battle against this invasive pest.

Damage to Agriculture and Trees

Spotted lanternflies pose a significant threat to agriculture, feeding on a wide range of economically important crops like grapevines, hops, and ornamental nursery plants. Their feeding habits can weaken plants and reduce crop yields, impacting the agricultural sector. Additionally, they are attracted to the invasive tree-of-heaven, which contributes to their rapid spread. Damage to trees results from the insects’ feeding on the sap, which can weaken and ultimately kill the tree. Moreover, the excretion of a sugary substance called “honeydew” leads to the growth of black sooty mold, further harming the trees and surrounding plants.

Invasive Species and Impacted Areas

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species native to Asia, particularly China, that has become a significant threat to the environment and economy in various parts of the United States. First detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, these insects have rapidly spread throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions, wreaking havoc on crops and native plants.

States such as New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia have experienced invasions of the spotted lanternfly, leading to major concerns for both agricultural and natural ecosystems. The insects primarily feast on plants’ sap, leaving a sticky residue that attracts other pests and promotes the growth of mold, ultimately harming the plants and reducing crop yields.

Being an invasive species, the spotted lanternfly lacks natural predators in the areas it invades, allowing its population to grow uncontrolled. As a result, researchers are exploring the potential for native birds and insects to help manage the populations of these harmful pests, providing a more eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemicals and other traditional methods of pest control.

While the impact of spotted lanternflies is most heavily felt in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the insects continue to expand their reach, affecting neighboring regions and making it crucial for communities to join the fight against this invasive species. Their introduction has not only disrupted local ecosystems but also increased economic pressure on both farmers and industries that rely on healthy plants and crops.

Ultimately, efforts to control the population of lanternflies by introducing native predators, such as birds, could offer a promising and sustainable solution for combating this invasive species.

Lanternfly Control and Management

People are resourceful. Among the methods of controlling lanternfly populations are:

  • Birds: One of the most effective ways to manage lanternflies is by introducing their natural predators—like birds—into their environment. In fact, some birds, such as northern cardinals, blue jays, gray catbirds, tufted titmice, and even chickens, have already proven to be lanternflies’ ardent hunters. While birds can help control the lanternfly population, their effectiveness in completely eradicating the issue is yet to be seen.
  • Other natural predators: Apart from avian predators, other creatures like praying mantises, garden spiders, yellowjackets, wheel bugs, garter snakes, and koi fish also target spotted lanternflies. Encouraging these natural predators to thrive helps strengthen the biological control of this invasive species (link).
  • iNaturalist: Another useful platform is iNaturalist, where people can report their findings of lanternfly predators. Researchers and community members actively use this information to understand the insects’ local impact, distribution, and the best practices in managing them. Moreover, data collected from iNaturalist allows experts to identify new lanternfly predators, expanding the list of useful allies in biological control.
  • Traps: Aside from engaging predators, physical traps can also assist in lanternfly management. Sticky traps, for example, have proven effective in capturing lanternflies and controlling their population. Placing these traps near areas where lanternflies are commonly found, such as the base of tree trunks or on walls, can help minimize their destructive effects on crops and trees.

Bird Feeding Habits and Adaptations

Birds have developed a multitude of feeding habits and adaptations that allow them to consume different types of food sources. The beaks of these creatures play a vital role in enabling them to engage with their favored prey. For instance, Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays are among the birds that potentially eat lanternflies.

A bird’s beak directly correlates with its diet; different beak shapes allow for the efficient consumption of various food sources. Insect-eating birds, such as those feeding on spotted lanternflies, typically have sharp, pointed beaks which enable them to seize and hold onto their prey. Some birds, like sparrows and finches, have strong beaks best suited for cracking open seeds.

In addition to beak adaptations, specific bird species have developed particular feeding behaviors. These behaviours allow them to more effectively hunt and consume their preferred food. For example, insect-eating birds may employ different strategies to capture their prey, such as pouncing on insects from above or hovering and snatching them midair. On the other hand, frugivorous (fruit-eating) birds tend to have a preference for berries and other small fruits, using their robust beaks to efficiently break through the fruit’s outer skin and consume the nutritious flesh within.

Birds use various methods to help them consume insects like the spotted lanternfly. Some birds may focus primarily on eating the Lanternfly’s nymph stage, while others might avoid eating the wings on adult lanternflies. The feeding habits of birds can have a significant impact on controlling the populations of invasive pests like the spotted lanternfly.


Birds play a significant role in controlling the invasive spotted lanternfly, which poses a major threat to various plant species. Among the avian species feeding on these pests, chickens have been frequently observed preying on them. Other common bird predators include Northern Cardinals, Gray Catbirds, Blue Jays, and Tufted Titmice.

In addition to birds, studies reveal that other native wildlife, such as the praying mantis, also help combat the spread of spotted lanternflies. The praying mantis is considered one of their biggest predators and can be found in many of the same areas where these invasive insects thrive.

Through predation, birds and other native wildlife contribute to the overall management of the spotted lanternfly population. Collaborative efforts between researchers, scientists, and citizens, including bird watchers, have shown the importance of understanding these predator-prey relationships.

All in all, the spotted lanternfly has various natural predators, especially among bird species, that help control its population. Through continued research and monitoring, these predator-based management strategies can be better understood and implemented to protect ecosystems from the damaging effects of invasive species like the spotted lanternfly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do chickens consume lanternflies?

Yes, chickens do consume lanternflies. They have been observed as one of the most common avian predators that feed on spotted lanternflies, which makes them a potential line of defense against these invasive insects 1.

Are bats known to eat lanternflies?

There isn’t sufficient information available on whether bats consume lanternflies specifically. However, bats do feed on a variety of insects in general. More research is needed to confirm if lanternflies are a part of their diet.

What are the natural predators of lanternflies?

Spotted lanternflies have a few natural predators that help control their population. Some known predators include chickens, gray catbirds, great crested flycatchers, and red-bellied woodpeckers 2. Additionally, insects such as praying mantises also prey on these pests 3.

Are there any birds that prey on spotted lanternflies?

Indeed, there are several bird species known to prey on spotted lanternflies. These include, but are not limited to, chickens, northern cardinals, gray catbirds, blue jays, and tufted titmice 4.

Do ladybugs feed on lanternflies?

While ladybugs are known to feed on other pests like aphids and mites, there isn’t any substantial evidence to suggest that they prey on spotted lanternflies. Further research is needed to determine if ladybugs include lanternflies in their diet.

Do squirrels have a taste for spotted lanternflies?

Currently, there isn’t enough information available on whether squirrels consume spotted lanternflies. Squirrels are primarily herbivores, preferring to eat nuts, fruits, and seeds. However, they do occasionally eat insects. More research is needed to ascertain if lanternflies are part of their diet.


  1. https://www.audubon.org/news/birds-are-one-line-defense-against-dreaded-spotted-lanternflies
  2. https://www.birdiefacts.com/birds-that-eat-lantern-flies/
  3. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/what-eats-spotted-lanternfly-do-they-have-predators/
  4. https://www.audubon.org/news/birds-are-one-line-defense-against-dreaded-spotted-lanternflies

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