Aerial Gypsy Moth Spraying to Begin in May

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 711, FAX 703-324-2010

April 21, 2006

Aerial Gypsy Moth Spraying to Begin in May

Voluntary Program Focused on Clifton, Herndon and Great Falls

Starting in May, Fairfax County will begin its aerial spraying program to suppress gypsy moth caterpillars. Spraying will be concentrated in five locations in the Clifton, Herndon and Great Falls areas. Treatment areas are chosen through an annual county survey of the gypsy moth population.

Helicopters will spray a naturally occurring insecticide in the following five treatment areas:

  • Area 1 is an 80-acre area located next to Bull Run and I-66.
  • Area 2 is an 88-acre area located in the town of Herndon around Herndon Parkway and Dranesville Road.
  • Area 3 is a 99-acre area around the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Utterback Store Road.
  • Area 4 is a 46-acre area in the village of Great Falls near the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Walker Road.
  • Area 5 is a 185-acre area just north of Brook Road and north of the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Lewinsville Road.

A map showing these treatment areas is available at all public library branches, county governmental centers and online at

Residents in the treatment areas should keep their pets inside and their horses stabled if they are sensitive to loud noises.

Helicopters may still fly over the property of residents who have opted out of the aerial spraying program, but these properties will not be sprayed. Properties within 200 feet of each non-participating property will be sprayed from the ground. Property owners living in these buffer zones have been notified that ground treatment will be used instead.

Spraying, which will be conducted in the early morning and dusk, will begin next month as soon as tree leaves begin to emerge more fully. Treatment may take up to two days, depending on the weather.

Helicopters will fly 50-100 feet above the treetops, taking about 10-20 minutes to spray each treatment area. The insecticide will be applied in a fine mist that takes approximately 30 minutes to dry and adhere to leaves.

The treatment program is voluntary, and residents were given an opportunity to opt out earlier this year. Since January, residents who live in and around the treatment areas have been receiving detailed information in the mail about the program.

The county will use a naturally occurring bacteria — Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. — as an insecticide. Extensive research has shown that Bt. is not harmful to people, pets, plants or beneficial insects, such as honeybees. The spray will not cause any permanent harm to painted surfaces, and residues can be removed with soap and water.

Bt. is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Virginia Department of Agriculture for use against gypsy moths.

The gypsy moth is one of the most serious threats to forests and forested residential areas in the United States. To minimize the loss of trees and the nuisance of gypsy moth caterpillars, the Fairfax County Forest Pest Program has developed its Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program.

For more information about the treatment program or affected areas, call the county’s Forest Pest Program at 703-324-5304, TTY 711, or visit


To request this information in an alternate format, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 711.

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