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Did you know there are 2000 subspecies of fireflies worldwide and that they are not flies, but are actually beetles?  Did you know that it depends on which subspecies they belong to whether or not they light up because of the time of day they are out and about?  And, did you know their subspecies also dictates whether the males, females or both light up?  Did you know that although perhaps their little biolights might be for protection, it is more likely part of their mating ritual?  Did you know a firefly's actual lifespan after pupating is about two months?  Did you know their larvae spend the winter underground until just the right moment when they emerge to fly, light up the landscape, mate, lay their eggs and die only in the month of June in New York State? And here's one for you guys out there--did you know that like spiders, the females kill and devour their mates after the act? 

On warm summer evenings I like to spend time on the deck that overlooks my gardens.  Recently when a friend and I were enjoying a glass of wine as the sky faded into darkness, he said, "I can't believe all the lightning bugs there are here."  I hadn't noticed before, but he was right.  There was an abundance of their tiny flashing lights everywhere, reminiscent of my early-in-life backyard hunting expeditions. 

Regardless of complaints I might express about my childhood responsibilities and lack of "stuff" by comparison to my more well-off classmates, I must admit that growing up on a small farm in the '50's before widespread availability of television, computers and cell phones did have its advantages.  One particular opportunity was having an endless supply of fireflies, aka lightning bugs, and dozens of canning jars in which to capture them.  As I recall, they weren't difficult to catch or keep.  They offered little resistance and once inside the jar, almost as if they knew their efforts to escape would be futile, they clung to the sides of the glass and emitted a weaker steady light.  This was a disappointing outcome, because it was always our goal to pack the jar full creating a twinkling homemade flashlight.  After half an hour, they seemed to disappear as quickly as when they first came on the scene and we never caught more than two or three dozen in an evening.  However, as the old saying goes, it's the journey and not the destination that is memorable. 

My friend said he had noticed a decline in the lightning bug population a decade or so ago and laid the blame on farm pesticides, which have now been banned or changed to the point of little or no affect.  Be that as it may, on this recent evening, they came in droves to my back yard, flashing their little hearts out (or should I say flashing their little butts off) performing a short but intense light show that we will store in our memories for years to come, here in Wayne County, New York. 


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2 Comments to "The June light show in Wayne County"

  1. Seth C. Burgess Said,

    No, I did not know. Thanks for sharing! We used to catch fireflies on 4th of July weekend at my uncle's farm property in Huron.

    Love that saying..."it's the journey and not the destination that is memorable". I always keep a variation of it in mind to shape the best approach to hiking in the Adirondacks.

    Posted on Wed Jun 23, 02:59:00 PM EDT

  2. Anonymous Said,

    Great show last night.. I think they are thriving.....great idea a little vino and a little light show. Someone should film and put on this site

    Posted on Wed Jun 23, 04:09:00 PM EDT


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