Monday, June 24, 2013

FIREFLIES!

Fireflies/lightning bugs- neither bug nor fly- they are part of the beetle family - Coleoptera, if you want to get fancy. They also produce neither fire or lightning. These are bioluminescent creatures, the light is cool, not warm and created through a chemical reaction. It's very neat stuff!
     Like a giddy 5 year old, I stepped out onto our (really) tiny terrace and noticed some glows happening down in my landlord's garden.... FIREFLIES! I literally went inside and out the front door to catch my first firefly of the year! I caught one very quickly and brought it in to hopefully put into a vessel, photograph, and let him go. Definitely a him- only the boys fly and light up, the ladies sit in grasses and bushes and glow. Anyway, of course, in typical 5-year old fashion he got away from me, he flew up and around my kitchen and I failed many times to capture him (you'd think this shouldn't be hard). I gave up and figured, oh well, he is out and hopefully the cat will not find him.
     When I was a kid, I always caught fireflies, rummaged through the recycling bin, grabbed a bottle, poked holes in the lid and filled it with some fireflies. Probably some very frustrated male fireflies who just got you-know-what-blocked by a little kid. Anyway, those frustrated fireflies escaped one night and I recall my mother saying that my jars were no longer permitted in the house, they'd have to stay outside. And this moment in my life is going through my head, as I am standing on chairs in the kitchen, trying to catch a firefly.
     Three hours later, I walk into the kitchen, and there he was, crawling up the wall. I caught him, got him into a tupperware, got my pictures and let him go. He gave me a glow as he went off into the night, perhaps a goodbye, or a firefly cuss of sorts for my failure in getting him stuck in my kitchen.
     Anyway, the fireflies are out here in the North East. Enjoy the show while it lasts, I absolutely love these little insects!
Male fireflies fly around signaling with their glow. Females wait and signal back to males. This is the firefly dating game. Although, there is another species of firefly that mimics the Eastern firefly, the guy above. The female of this other species mimics the light pattern of Eastern fireflies, lures the male in and turns him into dinner.
Fireflies themselves are predators of other insects. Fireflies themselves are actually toxic to most animals, as a keeper of reptiles, these guys can be deadly if people feed them to their pet lizards, turtles, and frogs.
If fireflies were not a part of your childhood, come on over to the New York and live it up!