Public Works and Environmental Services

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Sharon North
Public Information Officer

County Watching and Monitoring for Spotted Lanternfly

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~Urging residents to be vigilant~

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va – Throughout July spotted lanternfly nymphs are moving into the adult phase of their life cycle, which lasts until November. Adults begin laying eggs in September and through the first few hard frosts. The egg masses are covered in a light gray colored wax that looks like mud when it dries.

The spotted lanternfly is known as a ‘hitchiker’ since it is often found near railroads and inside shipments of items such as produce. Fairfax County Forest Pest Management unit also is asking County residents to help slow the spread of this invasive pest by being vigilant about not moving spotted lanternfly life stages when traveling through known infested areas and to vacuum nymphs and adults with a shop vac and scrape egg masses into a container of soapy water, as well as report sightings.

The insect feasts on more than 70 plant species, but its preferred host is the tree-of-heaven. In the Commonwealth the peach, apple, grape, and wine industries are most threatened. Spotted lanternfly has the potential to cause severe nuisance to residents by feeding on trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in unusually large numbers and leaving a sticky, smelly mess when they leave. While plant mortality is not a widespread concern, the nuisance created by these insects could cause some reactionary behaviors, leading to unnecessary pesticide use and the potential removal of valuable tree canopy and other vegetation.

Spotted lanternfly was found in isolated areas in Fairfax County in 2022. Forest Pest Management staff are monitoring countywide in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

Spotted lanternfly identification information with links to the quarantine area can be found on the Fairfax County web site Spotted Lanternfly. Please keep an eye out for spotted lanternfly in Fairfax County and report sightings to or to 703-324-5304. The popular mobile app, iNaturalist, is an effective and efficient method for reporting a SLF sighting.

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