|photo credit: www.firefly.org|
Raise your hand if you love summer! What can be bad about more daylight, fresher foods, and a more relaxed schedule? Even though we may all keep the same work hours in summer that we do the rest of the year, the extra daylight makes the season feel luxurious - as if you can finally get everything done on your to-do list and maybe read a book, too.
Recently, as a group of us were sitting on our porch, the fireflies came out. Winking and blinking in their ageless mating game, these specially endowed cousins of the common beetle sent us all reminiscing about chasing them in our childhood yards or watching our own kids wonder at the "lightning bugs" when they were younger.
Then the discussion turned to how we don't see them as much as we used to. Like frogs and bees, fireflies are declining due to the effects of human activity. Evidence is mounting that lawn chemicals kill the beetles both directly by poisoning these ground and tree dwellers and indirectly by killing the grubs and other insects the fireflies use for food. Light pollution is thought to inhibit them from lighting up - which means no offspring. After all, fireflies communicate by blinking their lights and if they can't find each other to mate, well, there goes the next generation. The paving of green spaces to make way for roads, shopping centers, and suburban driveways leaves less space for the beetles to live.
Because I love fireflies, I'm hoping others will join me in trying to protect them. You can read more about how simple actions can make your yard more hospitable to fireflies here and here.
Sometimes, when I'm especially fatalistic about what is happening to the world around us, I think of the things I'll miss the most once they are gone. Tigers and elephants and rhinos, definitely. Glaciers, certainly. Fireflies? Oh yeah. How tragic to lose that tiny bit of summer magic from our lives - especially when a few alterations to how we live could preserve them.