Lightning bugs

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Well it’s that time of summer. The fireflies have arrived.

Don’t get me wrong. I love watching the swallowtail and leafwing butterflies above the phlox and obedient plants. The ruby-throated hummingbirds in the delphinium and roses are just mesmerizing. Even the clumsy bumble bees busy in the Asiatic lilies and bee balm are entertaining.

But somehow the night games of the fireflies are my favorite. And they arrived this week. My husband was letting Harvey and Nigel, our cocker spaniels, out for their evening constitutional, when he noticed both dogs were distracted and snapping at the night air. Then he saw the twinkles and sparkles of the fireflies. Knowing my reaction he came in to open the curtains so we could watch the bugs play above the damp lawn.

Curious, I looked them up on Wikipedia this week.

Lampyridae is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a “cold light”, with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically-produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green or pale-red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers.

Fireflies hibernate over winter during the larval stage, some species for several years. Some do this by burrowing underground, while others find places on or under the bark of trees. They emerge in the spring. After several weeks of feeding, they pupate for 1 to 2.5 weeks and emerge as adults. The larvae of most species are specialized predators and feed on other larvae, terrestrial snails, and slugs.

So all good news. They are pretty, don’t eat my flowers or vegetables and feed on bugs that do.


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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