Monday, July 18, 2005

Firefly Love

What summer would be complete without fireflys?
If you grew up in Central Illinois then probably remember the excitement you felt running into a darkend yard sparkling with fireflys. I remember running indoors to ask my mother for a bottle, or glass jar, to put our captured fireflys. My siblings, and the neighbor kids, would catch dozens of fireflys dropping each in the bottle.

Of course our parents would inform us that even if we poked holes in the bottlecaps that the fireflys wouldn't like being in a bottle, and would soon die. It never seemed to matter much, as children we simply didn't understand the incredible gift of life, or the finality of death.

Sometimes my parents would sneak into my bedroom after I fell asleep, and would liberate the fireflys, other times I guess they'd forget, and the next morning nearly all the fireflys would have already died. I never understood why they died even after we'd go through the trouble of putting grass in the bottle for them.

Sometimes one or two of the fireflys survived the night, and for them it was a miracle to be shaken out of the bottle onto a sidewalk where they would often meet their fate - being attacked by ants, run over by bicycles, or if extremely lucky to make it into the grass perhaps to shine on yet another night.

Needless to say I'd never tolerate that treatment towards such an incredible fellow traveler today. Life, and the beauty of the firefly is just too short to hasten even one moment.

The three photos below are of a firefly just after sunset. Some streets in Jerome aren't completely wiped out with artificial light, and scenes such as these are still possible.

The first photo shows the firefly (a little difficult to spot) to the left center.

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The firefly seemed to be very interested in my camera, which I had accidently left in the red eye reduction mode. In this mode the camera blinks a bright red LED in front of the camera just before flashing the strobe. The firefly must have believed it was courting a beautiful, if odd colored, firefly.

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After a few seconds, and after nearly flying into our Weber filled with hot coals, the firefly got the message, and gave up trying to mate with my camera. Here we see the last shot of the amorous firefly on its way to find love, hopefully, with another of its kind.

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Marie said...

Although, we called them lightening bugs, that is exactly how I remember fireflies as a kid. Great memories. Except for one little thing. And, I'm reluctant to even bring this up for fear of being taken the wrong way. But, did you ever disect one, specifically the light-up part? For scientific purposes, only, of course. And if so, were you disappointed?

Those last two are amazing photos. Really really cool.

P.S. I should mention my own kids had the same fun growing up, except for the disecting part.

JeromeProphet said...


There are indeed certain details which I left out intentionally.
They are such harmless creatures, I feel guilty.

I recall how slowly, as I grew older, that my sense of concern for all life, including insects, evolved. I often wonder if my awakening was a byproduct of the times in which I grew up?

Our childhoods paralleled that of the popularization of the environmental movement.

I suspect that gave our generation a unique experience. We went from "sinner" to "saint" on the environmental issue very rapidly.

You see that happening in the developing nations now too. Where children are ahead of their parents, and the politicians, adopting endangered species as causes, and trying to protect the dwindling rain forest in their own nations.

We also called them lightening bugs.

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