Heels are for dancing, not for bug squishing

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and Firewood, Guest blog by TNC Summer Staff Ariel Kirk

Here at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale, NY, contra dancing is king!  Contra dancing is similar to square dancing – you dance with a partner as the steps are called and then join up with other partners to form larger, more intricate dances as the song progresses. All those foot stomps and counting steps reminded me of something “buggy”…if you ever encounter any potential invasive insects, it’s better to take a photo and call the hotline than to just squish them flat!

We had a great number of visitors to our Don’t Move Firewood booth at Falcon Ridge that were initially thinking that the best course of action, if they come across these critters, would be to squish them. Not so! Killing one insect out of a larger population really won’t help matters, but if you document that insect with a photograph and contact the right authorities (like your state department of agriculture, or a local knowledgeable master gardener if you can’t quite figure it out) in your area, you’d be a huge help. Biologists can then investigate the insect or tree symptom and determine the best course of action in that location. Your report might be much needed information, allowing the experts to track the invasive species and have the most up to date statistics on the health of our trees and our forests.

don't move firewood summer intern booth

Some visitors to the booth were wondering how to procure firewood for their camping needs if they can’t bring it with them.  That’s a great question.  Many state parks won’t allow you to bring in firewood any more because invasive species are such a problem to our native ecosystem, so you’ll need to plan ahead. In most cases, you’ll be buying firewood from a local grocery store or gas station. First, check out the bag. The best type of wood has a shield-like emblem on the bag from USDA- APHIS that certifies the wood has been heat-treated to the correct temperature and duration to ensure it is safe to use and no hitchhiking insects are within the wood. And don’t worry- no pesticides or chemicals are used for treating the wood, it is just heated to a high temperature for a specific amount of time designed to kill any insects or pathogens in or on the firewood.

heat treated firewood shield symbol USDA APHIS


Happy camping to you and contra dance your heart out!