The oldest home in Arlington is in jeopardy of being destroyed, the Arlington Historical Society says, and insects are to blame.
Despite weathering several centuries, the house is now being threatened by something just about a quarter of an inch long: powderpost beetles.
“The beetles eat the wood the house is made of and make it become like sawdust,” Annette Benbow, who serves on the Ball-Sellers House Committee and the Arlington Historical Society board, tells ARLnow.
Benbow says she believes the beetles have been caught in time to save the home. However, money needs to be raised to cover the cost.
The Arlington Historical Society created a GoFundMe page that has raised, as of Tuesday morning, $1,375 of its $6,000 goal.
“We need to spray the home with a very expensive material that will not hurt the house, but will prevent the furthering of damage that the beetles have caused,” Benbow said.
The house remains open to the public — from 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays, April through October, according to the historical society. It is located on 5620 3rd Street S., in the Glencarlyn neighborhood.
If the $6,000 is not raised online, the Arlington Historical Society will still pay for the spray, but the expense would affect the society’s budget and take away funds for other projects and historic buildings, Benbow said.
“We do not get money from any governmental level. All of our money comes from donations or membership dues,” she said. “The house must be saved as it is a structural and historical artifact that is irreplaceable and rare.”
Image via Google Maps
On Sunday, June 19, the festival celebrating insects that light up summer nights is back for the first time since 2019. Last year, a smaller firefly “prowl” (essentially, a nature walk) was held due to the pandemic.
This year there will be firefly arts and crafts, bug bingo, storytelling, a nature walk, and flashlight games. All are encouraged to go on a firefly hunt, catching and releasing the twinkling bugs.
Naturalists will also be on hand to explain how to best attract fireflies and ways to maintain backyard habitats to encourage insect visitors.
“Fireflies are fascinating and inspire a sense of nostalgia for many adults,” saud the press release. “The festival is an opportunity to introduce the next generation of citizens to the wonders of the night sky and the value of natural spaces.”
The event is sponsored by the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. Registration began last week.
In general, fireflies are not lighting up the night sky as they used to.
“There are fewer, like a lot of insects,” says Rita Peralta, Outreach Manager at the Long Branch Nature Center and in charge of putting on the festival. “It’s largely referred to as an insect apocalypse. Like a lot of animals, it’s due to, mostly, habitat loss.”
But on warm Arlington summer nights, fireflies can be found across the county. The best place to see their nightly light show is near undistributed mature trees, in areas that have little light pollution.
That’s why Fort C.F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood is a great spot for the festival, says Peralta, because of its tree canopy and open meadows.
There are about 2,000 different firefly species in the world, with anywhere from 24 to 36 species calling our region home. Their ability to light up is part of their mating process, but one local species uses the light as a way to attract a meal.
“One local firefly species — the Femme Fatale or Photuris genus — is predatory,” noted the release. “The female will send a false signal to a male of another species to attract him and will then eat him when he arrives to mate.”
The festival starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs for two hours. Admission is $7 and tickets can also be purchased at the event, in addition to online. Heavy rains will cancel the event and there’s no rain date.
As of today, more than 100 people have already registered online, according to the county’s website.
Photo by Bruce Marlin via Wikimedia Commons
Giant Spiders May Drop In — “An invasive species of spider the size of a child’s hand is expected to ‘colonize’ the entire East Coast this spring by parachuting down from the sky, researchers at the University of Georgia announced last week… Andy Davis, author of the study and a researcher at Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, tells Axios that it isn’t certain how far north the spiders will travel, but they may make it as far north as D.C. or even Delaware.” [Axios, Fox 5, NPR]
Anti-Growth Group Decries Route 29 Planning — “On March 6, ASF wrote to the Arlington County Board expressing concerns that significant new land use and zoning plans will cause seismic shifts for the communities now lining Langston Blvd. We believe the process — which will soon produce a new Preliminary Concept Plan that likely will be fast-tracked like other county planning processes — will neglect or defer costs of critically-needed new infrastructure, will displace those earning 60% or less than the Area Median Income, and will make it difficult for local entrepreneurs to stay in business.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]
Polish Pike Pierogi Purveyor Praised — “‘Oh my god, it smells so good it’s driving me crazy!’ my husband reported after picking up a pierogi order from chef Ewa Fraszczyk, who shares kitchen space with La Cocina VA, selling her pan-fried Polish dumplings from the nonprofit’s Columbia Pike café every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Arlington chef’s pierogi, all delicate and delicious, come six to an order ($10-$12) in four varieties.” [Arlington Magazine]
Apartment Child Care Bill Advances — “House members voted unanimously on March 8 in support of a measure by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-Fairfax-Loudoun) to amend the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and permit child-care facilities in apartment units. That followed earlier, also unanimous, support in the state Senate.” [Sun Gazette]
Teen Stabbed in Va. Square Area — “At approximately 6:28 p.m. on March 8, police were dispatched to the report of a fight involving a group of approximately 6 – 10 juveniles. Upon arrival, the juveniles were no longer on scene and officers canvassed the area and located evidence of an injury in the 500 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 7:14 p.m., the juvenile male victim arrived at Virginia Hospital Center for treatment of stab wounds suffered during the fight. The victim’s injuries are considered serious but non-life threatening.” [ACPD]
Bus Driver Nearly Causes Wreck on I-395 — From public safety watchdog Dave Statter: “Watch: A ‘professional’ driver does no better trying to quickly get across 4 lanes of interstate highway. This one almost takes out a car–twice!! Must have been a fun bus ride.” [Twitter]
Takeout for a Cause at Four Courts — From Ireland’s Four Courts: “Stop in or order takeout on Thursday for dinner. We are donating 20 percent of our food sales to @PathForwardVA help #endhomelessness in Arlington.” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 52 and low of 35. Sunrise at 6:28 am and sunset at 6:12 pm. [Weather.gov]