Spotted Lanternfly has arrived in Loudoun County! This invasive bug was first detected in Virginia in 2018 and has now begun to spread throughout our county. Spotted Lanternfly negatively impacts fruit crops, such as grapes, peaches and hops which could hurt the wine & beer industry, but also targets key species in our forests such as walnut and oak. The host tree for this species in a highly invasive and difficult to remove tree called Tree-of-Heaven.

Beyond just impacting our food & forests, Spotted Lanternflies damage personal property as well. This invasive insect secrets large amounts of honeydew, which is a sugary fluid that coats plant leaves and everything underneath. This honeydew supports the growth of sooty mold which is a black mold that coats everything. Sooty mold will prevent plants from conducting photosynthesis, eventually killing the plant, and can stain wood and outdoor furniture as well.

How do we stop this pest? By working together as a community we can stomp out this bug! Spotted Lanternflies will amass on plants and suck sap from all the leaf parts, causing branches to die and potentially plant death. Look for the nymphs and adults on tree trunks, plant stems, fences, and even lawn furniture. When spotted, stomp or squash them!

December to April is the time of year to keep an eye out for egg masses that were left to weather the winter months. Resident can inspect tree trunks, fences, rocks, and other lawn furniture that has a smooth surface where eggs can adhere. The egg masses are about 1 inch in length and ½ an inch wide, with a shiny grey-brown coloration. When spotted, you can either crush the egg mass or scrape them off into a baggie that contains alcohol and secure the bag before throwing it away.

Curious? Watch this Video

Read More Here

Willowsford Conservancy allows catch and release fishing in all of our ponds for those who are licensed fishermen. We ask that all fishermen handle fish safely and clean up after themselves when they are finished—please do not leave fishing line or lures in open space. They are incredibly harmful to the native wildlife.

For more information on attaining a fishing license, visit:

Wildlife don’t understand property boundaries so unfortunately it is not uncommon for them to wander in and out of yards. Because of the unique nature of our community being so close to naturalized open space, this is actually a special experience and benefit to living in Willowsford.

Provide Address and explanation of the project you are interested in doing. We have had a range of projects ranging from wildflower meadow restoration and tree plantings to invasive shrub and vine removals. Please note that these projects are for native restoration projects that align with our goals for naturalized open space—we do not permit landscaping of any kind. If interested, please contact Willowsford Conservancy for a license agreement that can initiate the project.

Managing water quality in Conservancy ponds is more difficult when ponds experience higher amounts of
water runoff from neighborhood streets. When looking at Allen Farm Pond or Cedar Pond, our two most
intensely managed ponds, the green algae spreading across the water surface is incredibly noticeable. This is
true particularly in the spring and fall when these ponds struggle with algae blooms and muddy colors that
stem from the water runoff from the neighborhood.

Phosphorous is one of the three main components of fertilizer, making up 10% of the fertilizer applied to
lawns and gardens, and during rain events phosphorous gets washed into ponds and streams. To put this into
perspective, while phosphorous makes up 10% of fertilizer, in healthy waterways it should only make up
0.000002% of the nutrients in the water.

When a high percentage of phosphorous gets added to the water it feeds the growth of algae and causes a
massive blooming event. Not only does this give the pond a green and slimy appearance, but it reduces
oxygen in the water and makes it less livable for fish and toxic to animals.

What does the Conservancy do to manage algae bloom? The application of naturally occurring additives can
help rebalance the nutrient levels. This gradual and natural restoration is preferred to chemical applications
of algaecides which can harm the wildlife and the sudden death of vegetation can cause a massive vacuum of
oxygen during the decaying process that can cause fish die-off.

Unfortunately, reducing the amount of phosphorous in water is an uphill battle and some ponds such as
Cedar Pond struggle more each year. The biggest impact is lawn fertilizer.

What can the Community do? Our community can help ponds and wildlife by reducing the use of fertilizer
or by using phosphorous free fertilizer. One way to reduce the use of fertilizer is to adopt a practice of soil
testing to determine exactly what nutrient the lawn needs and how much. This prevents an overapplication
of fertilizer that causes a chain of bad reactions in the environment. The wise use of fertilizer can help save
our water & wildlife.

Interested in seeing how much of a difference fertilizer really makes? Cedar Pond has water running into it
from 70 different homes and it gets treated every two weeks to combat algae blooms. As you can see from
the photo below, it is still struggling to rebalance and there is a growing algae problem. In contrast, Beaver
Dam Pond has water runoff from 17 homes and currently has zero algae and requires no treatment.

Cedar Pond

Beaver Dam Pond

First, it is important to confirm that the wildlife is actually abandoned. Mothers will rarely abandon their young and are usually in the area keeping an eye on them. Monitor the baby wildlife from a distance to confirm that it might be orphaned. If injured/orphaned please call the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources helpline at 1-855-571-9003 to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

For more information on orphaned or injured wildlife, please visit: Injured & Orphaned Wildlife | Virginia DWR

Willowsford Conservancy’s general policy is to avoid pesticides that kill beneficial insects and pose hazards to humans and wildlife. We recognize that ticks and tick-borne disease have become prevalent in Loudoun County. We recommend the commonly prescribed protocols of wearing light colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants with tucked-in pant legs, and shoes that cover the foot, and checking and changing clothing after outdoor activity. The best prevention is to frequently check yourself and your clothing, check your children and your pets. DEET-based repellents that contain 20% to 30% DEET have also been shown to be effective.

To reduce exposure to ticks, we mow established Conservancy trails bi-weekly, mowing at a wider width to remove overhanging grass. Wooded trails are monitored to keep vegetation from encroaching. Conservancy grassland areas are generally mowed twice per year. Additional buffer strips are mowed biweekly by the HOA in all grassland areas that adjoin resident property. Please report any overgrown trail segments to the HOA or Conservancy.

Deer populations can nearly double in size annually and hunting is a necessary tool to control population. Over-population of deer causes damage to residential and agricultural landscapes, leads to more frequent vehicle collisions and has a negative ecological impact on forests and other wildlife. During hunting season, the Conservancy permits hunting on Conservancy-managed land where safe and appropriate through our Deer Management Program, within the guidelines set forth by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Participation in the deer management program is limited to Willowsford residents, employees and volunteers. The program is designed to be safe, sportsmanlike and ethical, with program regulations meeting or exceeding applicable laws and regulations. Program information is available in the “Wildlife Management” section of the website.

Residents may hear gunfire from adjacent properties outside of Willowsford properties. Target practice and hunting are part of rural living, and not unusual. The activities on adjacent properties are beyond our jurisdiction.

Trees in various stages of decline are part of a natural woodland environment, and dead wood is a great resource for animal species in the forest. If there is no danger to persons, structures or trails, leaving standing dead trees (called “snags”) or uprooted trees provides habitat and food to many kinds of wildlife.

Snags are used by many species of birds and mammals for shelter and nesting, and are a source of insects and other invertebrates. This food source is particularly important for overwintering birds. Uprooted trees provide habitat for many animals, plants and microorganisms and, occasionally, create vernal pools that support amphibian breeding.

Snags are also important launch sites for birds to catch insects. A snag that borders a field or orchard may be used by hawks and owls to catch mice. Similarly, kingfishers, ospreys and bald eagles perch on or fish from dead trees standing in or near water. At least 30 kinds of birds commonly use snags for foraging perches. In addition, certain bird species regularly use snags for singing perches.

The Conservancy will remove trees that impact established trails or buildings, or otherwise present a safety hazard.

Coyotes have been in Virginia for at least 60 years. They generally avoid humans, even when living in urban or suburban areas, and should be left alone.  However, the presence of pet food, compost, dirty BBQ grills or trashcans lure coyotes into yards, and a coyote who finds food in one yard may learn to search for food in others. Don’t make your yard a food source to coyotes!

  • Avoid feeding pets outside, or remove the food bowl as soon as your pet has finished the meal.
  • Birdseed on the ground attracts mice and rats and can attract coyotes who feed on rodents.
  • Keep trash in containers with tight fitting lids. Place the cans curbside the morning of collection; much wildlife is active at night.
  • Keep unattended cats and dogs indoors or in in a secured, covered kennel.
  • Keep dogs on short leashes while walking outside, no longer than 6 feet.

Coyotes typically try to avoid people whenever possible.  However, as you and your pets spend more time outdoors, the possibility of a coyote encounter increases.  In the spring, when coyotes raise litters, they may be territorial and challenge dogs that come close to the pups.  Or they may try to escort you out of an area to protect their pups when you encounter them on a trail.  It is important to recognize such incidents for what they are: defense of space, not an attempt to stalk or attack.

If you encounter a coyote, do not run away.  Haze the coyote by clapping, shouting, and waving your arms, or throwing sticks and small rocks to persuade the coyote to move on.  Noisemakers, such as whistles, can help scare coyotes away.

If you spot a coyote in or around Willowsford, do not panic. Unless an animal is a nuisance or a threat, wildlife should be left alone and precautions should be taken not to attract wildlife to the home or yard.

Invasive plants are non-native plants that cause ecological harm to forests, native grasslands, wetlands and waterways as well as economic damage. They can rapidly invade and overtake a site, forming dense layers that interfere with or completely displace native plants. Invasive plants alter habitats by decreasing light availability and depleting soil moisture and nutrients. Some invasive plants release chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants.

Unfortunately, many plants that are invasive in Virginia are still sold through the nursery trade and recommended by landscapers and garden designers. These include Winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), various non-native honeysuckles including Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), Akebia (Akebia quintata), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and English Ivy (Hedera helix).

Plants often escape gardens when seed is carried away by birds and deer that feed on seeds and plants.  Seeds can also disperse through wind and water, or by attaching to shoes and clothing, or to animals that carry seed back into forests and open space.

Controlling invasive plants is difficult once they have become established.  Therefore, not using the plant, and removing highly invasive plants from gardens, are the most important steps toward control.

Poison ivy is extremely common in our area, growing along roadways and in fields, forests, yards and gardens. Although well known for causing an itching, painful rash in most people who touch it, the plant is eaten by many animals and the seeds are consumed and spread by birds. Knowing how to identify it is one of the best defenses against accidental contact. If you believe you have come into contact with poison ivy, wash the affected skin area with soap and cold water, or with a skin cleanser made to remove poison ivy oils. Always use cold water.

A good way to identify poison ivy is by its leaf that consists of three pointed leaflets. The middle leaflet generally has a longer stalk than the two side ones. Each group of three leaflets grows on its own stem, which connects to the main vine. The leaflets are 2-4” long; leaflet edges can be smooth, toothed, or lobed. The leaves are usually glossy and can be reddish when they emerge in the spring. They turn green in the summer, and become various shades of yellow, orange, or red in the fall. Yellowish-green flowers appear in June or July followed by light colored berries. Poison ivy can be found in one of three forms: an erect woody shrub, a trailing ground vine with many shoots, or a woody vine. The vine usually grows on trees or other objects for support. It has aerial roots along the stem that give it the appearance of a fuzzy rope. Poison ivy has no thorns and is commonly confused with the boxelder tree and Virginia creeper vine. Good images of eastern poison ivy in its various stages can be found here.

“Tree saves” are areas that the HOA designates as a tree preservation area—these can be on resident property but are handled by the HOA, not us. The following is stated in the HOA Design Standards:

Tree Preservation/Natural Areas
Tree removal shall not occur until after the Homeowner / Applicant receives approval from the Design Review Committee.


  • An Owner may request removal of a tree that is dead, dying and/or hazardous.
  • Healthy tree removal is discouraged but may be considered on a case-by-case basis where the Owner can demonstrate extenuating circumstances. 
  • Replacement trees are required and must generally be replaced one-for-one with a similar type of native tree, (shade, evergreen or understory). 
  • The minimum size for a shade tree shall be 2-inch caliper, the minimum size for an evergreen shall be 6 feet-7 feet in height and the minimum size for an understory tree shall be 6 feet-7 feet in height.

There has been a gradual decline in turkey populations over the past few years. Please see this survey report from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) conducted this year in partnership with other land managers in Virginia