A Jumping Spider Takes Down a Spotted Lanternfly - Observation of the Week, 10/12/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) and its Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) prey, seen in the United States by @mo0nsgreenthumb!

“I have always been interested in nature and considered myself somewhat of a ‘tree hugger,’” says Rita Tomassetti (@mo0nsgreenthumb), “although I have to confess I used to be terrified of any and all insects, and especially spiders. This all changed last year when I turned my failed efforts at gardening into a success by planting native plants.”

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Rita moved to Pennsylvania in the United States about eight years ago. She wanted to attract butterflies and other pollinators to her garden but found that the pretty non-native plants weren’t doing the job and instead became overrun by weeds. “It was very discouraging until 2 years ago when I attended a native plant sale and bought a Butterfly Garden in a box. It contained 2 beebalms, 1 coreopsis and 1 butterfly milkweed. I planted them in my front garden bed and suddenly I found 3 monarch caterpillars, then found their chrysalis and saw them fly off as butterflies.”

[In 2020] I joined a Facebook group called Gardening for Pollinators and Wildlife Conservation where I learned about all the different kinds of native plants I could plant to attract all the pollinators. I prepped the back garden, went plant shopping and planted densely. Everything did very well and that year I saw my previously sterile garden teeming with life. I learned all about the importance of all the insects visiting my garden, even the scary ones like spiders and hornets and wasps…[it’s] the one positive outcome from Covid and the lockdown.

I am very passionate about native plant gardening and taking care of this amazing Earth we have been blessed with and using iNaturalist I have been able to share with others on my Instagram and Facebook not just the benefit of planting natives but the benefit of having the myriad of insects visit the garden. How we don't need to be afraid of that bee or wasp or fierce looking beetle because they have an important role as pollinators and/or predators, and if we spray them to death we are not just harming them but we are harming ourselves in the long run.

However, the photo you see above was not taken in Rita’s garden (the one below was, though!). She was participating in the Amazing Arthropods 2021 project but

it was a very busy week for me and I barely had time to go out to my garden, but sometime that week I had stopped at a local bakery, on my way to pick up my son from school, and out of the corner of my eye, on a hydrangea leaf, I saw the bold jumping spider and spotted lanternfly so I snapped a quick picture and went on my way. I live in Pennsylvania and as you are all well aware I'm sure, the spotted lanternflies have been a major problem...I had also seen jumping spiders feasting on them before, so I was not surprised to see this spider enjoying its spotted lanternfly meal.

As Rita alluded to, the spotted lanternfly is having a bit of a moment in the United States press. Pieces about this invasive species have popped up in The New York Times, Science Friday, and many local outlets in the northeastern part of the country. Originally from parts of mainland Asia, it was first confirmed in the United States 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania but has spread to several other states. Check out the gif @kevinfaccenda posted on our forum

A type of planthopper, the spotted lanternfly’s preferred host is tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) but it will feed on many other plants, including important agricultural ones such as grapes, stone fruit, hardwoods, and hops. When large numbers of them feed on a plant (they suck out its sap), they can damage it by overfeeding or by excreting honeydew, which promotes mold growth that can be lethal the plant. 

Rita’s observation of this bold jumping spider dining on a spotted lanternfly has been added to the Spotted Lanternfly Predation in the U.S. project, where it’s currently one of nearly 100 observations. I reached out to project creator @robizzy, who told me 

Folks were snapping the occasional photo of birds and insects munching on a spotted lanternfly, which was a welcome sight as more and more of Pennsylvania was becoming overrun with them since they arrived a few years back. When lanternflies first showed up in Pennsylvania the fear was that there wouldn't be predators here to eat the invasive insects, so seeing that some things were at least willing to try offered some hope that we had some natural allies. iNaturalist lends itself really well to crowd sourcing these types of observations, so we decided to create a project to document any instances of other organisms taking down lanternflies. 

Around the same time a grad student at Penn State, Anne Johnson, was looking into reports of birds eating lanternflies, so we were happy to contribute this data to her research. The hope is that these projects help us better understand how native, and some non-native, organisms might be able to help us minimize damage from the lanternflies, and help us appreciate allies like our native birds and jumping spiders that much more!

- The US Department of Agriculture has information about spotted lanternflies in the US and what you can about them if you see one there.

- Spotted lanternflies are also an agricultural pest in South Korea, where they were first spotted in 2004.

- I didn’t write much about the the jumping spider part of Rita’s observation, but like all spiders, jumping spiders are awesome! Here are some of the most-faved jumping spider observations on iNat.

Publicado por tiwane tiwane, 12 de outubro de 2021, 09:21 PM


Great photo and story!

Publicado por sacredkingfisher cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Cool! Great pic and capture @mo0nsgreenthumb

Publicado por birderkellyk cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Well done Rita -- excellent observation! and I am happy to hear that your native plant garden is doing so well!

Publicado por susanhewitt cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)


Publicado por captainmantis37 cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Cool stuff. Best regards!

Publicado por gtsalmon cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

So wonderful! I love the fact that you spotted this as you went about your daily business. I’m sure you’re passing on some of your knowledge and passion to your son too.

Publicado por lisa_bennett cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Awesome capture. Right place right time with a skilled eye!

Publicado por daniel_wheeler cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Great record

Publicado por douglas_rocha cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Wonderful read. Congratulations, Rita, on your native gardening success!

Publicado por schizoform cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Thanks everyone! It has been a fun adventure. My kids love learning and getting to love all of the pollinators and predators visiting my garden and my husband has been amazed at the variety of insects we have seen.

Publicado por mo0nsgreenthumb cerca de 2 meses antes (Sinalizar)

Wonderful! Great observation, Rita! :)

Publicado por sambiology cerca de 1 mês antes (Sinalizar)

Great observation and photo

Publicado por jnstuart cerca de 1 mês antes (Sinalizar)

Beautiful moment Rita and beautifully captured on photo.

Publicado por hermanberteler cerca de 1 mês antes (Sinalizar)

Great photo, Rita!

A few weeks ago I was on a walk at a local park when a spotted lanternfly landed on my neck. Ick! I swatted it off (not knowing, then, what it was) and when it landed on the path somebody else stomped it. Yesterday our Bird & Nature Walk group stomped 19 at a different park.

I am now the sworn enemy of the spotted lanternfly.


Publicado por karen5lund cerca de 1 mês antes (Sinalizar)

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