As a kid, did you ever crave those summer nights when you could catch lightning bugs as their momentary flashes created an atmosphere full of twinkles? I participated in this activity every summer of my childhood years. In fact, I can remember it being a favorite of mine because it was one of the few times that I could fearlessly hang out with my big brother who also dug lightning bugs. Last night reminded me of these times as my niece asked me to join her on one of her first hunts. Suddenly, I remembered what summer is like for a child. So full of great outdoor fun, and a time to explore things that, someday, will fade away into the distance as more important things move to the forefront.
But, perhaps even more present than this resulting nostalgia was my curiosity. If I blog about this, can everybody relate? Are lightning bugs found everywhere? And, why are lightning bugs...well...lightning bugs? Why do they light up? So, I took a spin on the Fire Files. This helpful website is found on Ohio State's website, and I found it pretty fascinating, especially since it kept things simple and provided answers to all of my lightning bug trivia.
First, lightning bugs are not found any further west than mid-Kansas. There is the occasional one spotted out West, but they're not nearly in the numbers as they are here in the East. And they light up due to a complicated chemical phenomena that I would never be able to properly communicate. But, they do use this aspect of their biology in the mating process. So, next time you see the lightning bugs twinkling all around you, know that they're hearing the sweet music of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On." The site even went so far as to say that the female bugs tend to prefer the males who have the capacity to flash their lights faster. Wonder what the human equivalent of a fast flasher would be?
Long story short, I enjoyed this new spin on an old favorite. And as I encountered one of my worst natural enemies, an eight-legged freak, last night in the bathroom, I thought of how much better the world would be if all bugs were as harmless as my childhood friend, the lightning bug.