Invasive Spotted Lanternfly sightings rise in Fairfax County

An invasive species is trying to hitch a ride with Virginia drivers.

Residents are increasingly spotting the Spotted Lanternfly in Fairfax County, and the flying creatures will be laying eggs in September, said the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services in a recent press release. The species is often spread through cars traveling from an infected area to a non-infected area.

"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," the department said. 

Although the bug is native to China, it’s been found in 14 states. The Cicada relatives usually feast on Tree of Heaven, another invasive species, but the critter also chomps down on fruit plants, threatening Virginia’s peach, apple, grape and wine industries and leaving a sticky, smelly residue behind.

Spotted Lanternflies are covered in black spots, with red back wings and light brown front wings. They lay egg masses, which resemble cracked mud, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services recommends smashing and scraping the egg masses into soapy water and vacuuming the bugs.

The department asks residents to report sightings through mobile app iNaturalist, call 703-324-5304, or email