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Shine, lightning bug, shine

Lampyris_noctiluca Just read this column by a writer in Traverse City, Michigan filled with musings about various bugs, including a few sentences about lightning bugs:

The confirmation that it's truly high summer comes with the first appearance of the lightning bugs. Like so many wild species, they seem a lot more scarce now than they were even a decade ago. I enjoyed a sparse but worthwhile evening light show earlier this week.

Sometimes lightning bugs seem to have been created specifically to amaze and delight us humans on those first glorious warm nights of summer. I'm no entomologist, so I have no idea what they do in their day jobs or what their real function in the ecosystem is. If they exist only so kids can collect them and keep them in glass jars for a while, that's fine with me, too. What a planet!

Wow, does that take me back. I was captivated by lightning bugs -- also known as fireflies -- when I was a child growing up in western Pennsylvania. (It's actually the state insect of PA.) Aside from ladybugs, they were just about the only insects that were "safe" and "cute" to this girly-girl. I used to run around and catch them in a jar, then keep them on my bedroom dresser overnight.

Another columnist from the Akron Beacon-Journal seems just as enchanted by these glowing creatures.

I haven't seen fireflies in years, and after reading these articles, I miss them. They are not really found in the western U.S. Some say their overall numbers are on the decline.

Sad.

June 29, 2006 in Entomology | Permalink

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