S H O R T S H O R T S • •
FIREFLIES Fields of Stars
IN the North Carolina mountains, the treeline
beside where I parked my car late one June night
is all lit up, alive with tiny bright lights. Fireflies!
I gasp with delight.
I also spotted a single firefly in an Outback restaurant
parking lot in Garner in May. As I got over the rare sighting, I think, where are the
others? Isn’t this a mating thing? Don’t they
light up to attract the opposite sex?
Firefly sightings are on the decline. You
still see them on still nights in mountainous
counties, but I cannot really remember see-ing
fireflies in a long time. Are they disap-pearing?
Or am I just not out in the right
places, less traveled, not prone to be in open
fields and woods after dark anymore?
A twilight field of
blinking fireflies is
magical, like a field
of eye-level stars. The
firefly is for me a child-hood
Once, some areas
of the country had so
many fireflies that they
offered firefly tours to
estimated firefly species:
These numbers are going up as new
Lampyridae species are described by
scientists. USED WITH PERMISSION FIREFLY.ORG
All species of firefly speak a language of light, to attract a
mate, defend territory, to ward off a predator. Both the male
and female firefly communicate with flashing lights; the
male to find a mate.
Researchers say yes, fireflies are on the decline, but do not
have a firm culprit. They blame light pollution and habitat
depletion from residential and commercial development.
Some site pesticides such as broad-spectrum lawn chemi-cals,
meant to kill grubs, also kill firefly larvae.
The conservation and research group Firefly.org says
scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies go out
of synch for a few minutes after a car’s headlights pass.
Light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make
it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating —
meaning fewer firefly larvae are born next season.
— Pat Bradford
The purpose of blinking is
so that male fireflies can
find potential mates. If
you watch long enough,
you will be able to pick
up on their unique flash
pattern. Try to remember
it so that the next time
you see a firefly flash you
can identify it.
USED WITH PERMISSION FIREFLY.ORG