Aerial Gypsy Moth Spraying to Begin in May

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)

April 21, 2008

Aerial Gypsy Moth Spraying to Begin in May

Gypsy MothFairfax County will begin its annual aerial spraying program to suppress gypsy moth caterpillars starting in May. For the second year in a row, this insect population remains high. The caterpillars are a threat because they can kill trees by defoliating them.

  • View Map of Treatment Areas

County officials believe the dry weather during the past two years has contributed to an upsurge of gypsy moths. Dry weather inhibits the growth of a fungus that naturally keeps their population under control.

Helicopters will spray a naturally occurring insecticide in 46 areas across the county. A detailed map showing these treatment areas is available at all public library branches, county governmental centers. Treatment areas are chosen through an annual county survey of the gypsy moth population. This year the county will treat approximately 3,500 acres, compared to 4,000 acres last year.

Because weather conditions are unpredictable, county officials do not know the exact days when spraying will conducted. Once spraying begins, it may take seven to 10 days or longer to complete, depending on the weather. Typically, spraying is done in the early morning and at dusk. However, it may continue all day if weather conditions permit.

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 for use in forests and residential areas. In addition, Bt. is sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Virginia Department of Agriculture for use against gypsy moths.

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


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