Invasive spotted lanternfly is spreading its wings more often around Fairfax County

Spotted lanternfly (via Magi Kern/Unsplash)

More reports of the spotted lanternfly are popping up throughout Fairfax County, according to local officials.

The invasive insect — which is native to China, India and Vietman — has been seen in more areas of the county, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services says.

Officials are asking the public to help kill the pest. So far, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has been working closely with the county to determine how to reduce its numbers.

After first arriving in a grocery store shipment to Annandale, the bugs have primarily proliferated in the western area of the county, including Herndon, Centreville and Chantilly. Infestations have also been reported in Burke and Dunn Loring, according to a DPWES graphic.

Spotted lanternfly infestations in Fairfax County (via DPWES)

The insects feasts on more than 70 plant species, particularly the invasive tree-of-heaven, and is particularly problematic for Virginia, where they’re threatening the peach, apple, grape and wine industries, DPWES says.

“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,” DPWES said. “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.”

Egg masses are common in September and throughout the first few hard frosts. Vehicles help spread the pest around, particularly those near trees or the edges of a forest.

Here’s more from DPWES on how to help:

If you find spotted lanternfly, please report your findings through the mobile app iNaturalist or call 703-324-5304.

You can also report your findings by email at [email protected]. Provide photos and an address with your report.

After careful identification, trap or kill the insect, and scrape and smash the egg mass.

Check your vehicles, trailers and mobile equipment (tractors, bobcats, etc.) before visiting other locations.

Photo via Magi Kern/Unsplash

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