The fight to slow the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly is starting to read like a Marvel comic — with the arrival of a Praying Mantis as the superhero.
Earlier in the week, we reported that the Spotted Lanternfly had been seen in Hell’s Kitchen. Since then, multiple reports have come in of other sightings around the neighborhood. The Spotted Lanternfly is billed as the “the worst invasive species in the United States in 150 Years” and even NYC Parks has put out a request to terminate the insects, saying: “Harming our city’s wildlife is prohibited, but in an effort to slow the spread of this troublesome species, we are putting out a one-time call: if you see a spotted lanternfly, please squish and dispose of this invasive pest.”
Yesterday afternoon, we spotted a Praying Mantis outside the Apple Store on Broadway on the Upper West Side — and it’s the arch-enemy of the Lanternfly. Take a look at this YouTube video of them in combat (there’s no real contest)!
The Spotted Lanternfly has damaged millions of dollars worth of crops and affected the quality of life of millions of Pennsylvanians since it arrived from China in 2014. The Praying Mantis is one of the few species that is a predator and it enjoys snacking on Lanternflies — The Philly Magazine even suggested importing millions of Praying Mantis to help control the problem.
In another twist to this tale of villains and heroes, the folks in Pennsylvania have discovered another predator that’s equally as effective as the Praying Mantis — chickens!
Researchers at Penn State analyzed pictures submitted of over 600 “kills” of the Lanternfly. They found that the top bird predator was the chicken, with cardinals, catbirds, blue jays and the tufted titmouse rounding out the top five. “In the arthropod category, the praying mantis takes the top spot as the most reported predator; yellow jackets, orbweaver spiders, wheelbugs and ants also were strong contenders,” wrote research entomologists Anne Johnson and Kelli Hoover.
Expect our next sighting to be of chickens at Hudson Yards in amongst the herd of cows that arrived this week!