The Fairfax County Park Foundation in Virginia has received a $20,000 grant from Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to help with efforts to remove an invasive tree that hosts spotted lanternflies.
With the funding, the county’s park authority is expanding efforts to remove a kind of tree known as the “tree-of-heaven” that acts as a haven for the pests.
Fairfax County officials discovered the first adult spotted lanternflies moving into the county last summer, “and then they’re just going to increase in numbers and they will target tree-of-heaven,” said Fairfax County Urban Forester Katharine Layton.
Spotted lanternflies can damage crops and trees by sucking up sap.
“They just grow in great numbers out of control because they don’t have any predators and parasites that are available to keep them under control,” said Layton.
The fast-growing trees, themselves, an invasive species, are the preferred hosts for the spotted lanternflies.
The county is working to eliminate the trees from Blake Lane Park, where several of the trees can now be found.
Grant funding will go to buying seedlings and replanting after removing the tree-of-heaven.
“With that grant we’ll be able to purchase trees … work with volunteers to plant and reforest to create healthy wildlife habitat,” said Patricia Greenberg, an ecologist, with the Fairfax County Natural Resource Branch Invasive Management Area Program.
Greenberg told WTOP that the tree-of-heaven can be difficult to remove because if herbicide is not applied immediately to the stump of the trees, multiple sprouts will spring up from the root system. She said a contractor has been hired to help with the effort to remove them.
Volunteers can get involved in the effort to remove invasive species by at Blake Lane Park by attending a habitat restoration program session that is being held on Sunday, Jan. 29 from noon to 3 p.m.