I don’t like spiders, or snakes, or bugs. I do not feel I have authority over even the tiniest of creatures. I just want to flee. I hate to kill them…but I will stomp on a spider. Roaches…I don’t even think I can stand to talk about them…so let’s not. I do, however, have a fondness for two of the tiniest of God’s handiwork…ladybugs and fireflies. I can get along with these…and let them live and be at peace.
But, I recently heard a sad tale abut the firefly. Actually, we used to call them lightning bugs. I remember Joy and I catching them in an old glass jar….and Mama making us let them go before we came inside for the night. (That was when you could play outside and with neighborhood kids with out your parents worrying to death!) I’m glad she had us let them go. If you think you don’t see them much anymore, you’re right. Their population is on the decline. This is because of (according to Mother Nature Network.com) light pollution, pesticide use, and habitat destruction. And, this is the sad part…if a field where fireflies have lived is paved over or built on..the firefly family doesn’t just move over to another field…..they just disappear forever.
Does that make you a little wistful? It does me. I think of the absolute delight my sister and I, barefooted and dirty, had running after that elusive light to try to catch one in our hands. I don’t think I ever did. To get them into the jar, you had to be real sneaky and creep up behind them and bring that bottle down over them quickly! It’s not a skill I use anymore, sad to say. I don’t know when I’ve seen a firefly.
We lived in town on a busy road, but had lots of friends out in the country. And, once you got away from the light around town…right at dusk…you would begin seeing them. We also went to a church out in the country. I can remember when Memphis Baptist was just 2 small buildings. And when we would get out of church on Sunday night, it would just be getting dark. At that time, there were fields all around and a cemetery across the street. They would all be filled with the tiny lights! Of course, we couldn’t go chase them…cause it was still the Lord’s Day, and that was not befitting behavior for 2 young ladies, Daddy said. And besides, we still had on our Sunday dresses and sox and shoes. Mama was not happy if those white patent leather shoes got marks on them! But on Wednesday night, those bugs better beware! We had on school clothes and there weren’t as many rules about them! Even that far back, I remember what a sight it was to see a field all of a sudden light up. Wow. God makes so many wonderful things for a kid to marvel at!
Let me tell you a little about these little creatures. First of all, they are beetles…not flies. They have a chemical called luciferin inside their tails. When this combines with oxygen, calcium, and adenosine triphosphate….a chemical reaction occurs to create their spectacular light! Now, they carry the luciferin in their tail…and I know where the oxygen is…but where do they get the calcium and adenosine stuff from. Does it float in on the air, or is it in the ground. Do they get it from the food they eat? I could not find out. But, isn’t it wonderful to know that every little firefly that’s burned their beautiful light had to have help from the Master Creator to get the job done! And, it’s even more wonderful to think that Almighty, Heavenly Creator that He is, cares about his little firefly family on the earth enough to make sure they have the things they need to shine their light…attract a mate…and make more fireflies!
And, get this…they are light geniuses.! Their light is 100 % usable light where as the incandescent light bulbs that we humans manufacture lose 90% of their energy as heat…only 10% is usable light! Anything God makes is right from the start!
A very wise friend of mine told me once that God is just as magnificent in the tiniest of details we may ever not see, as He is in the large things we notice every day! It’s true!
There are over 2000 species of fire fly, but they don’t all light up. Each species that does light up, however,, has their own specific pattern of flashing. Some can even synchronize their flashes. Now, the whole’ light up thing’ is just a ploy to find a mate! The male flashes one pattern…the female flashes back another. I don’t really know the deciding factor on who they choose…but their lights can come in yellow, light red, green and orange. Perhaps the female has a favorite color!
And should some other creature be attracted to this light and decide it looks appetizing….a firefly also has something in his blood called LUCIBUFAGINS (love that word!) which makes them taste really gross!
Now friends…if you’ve even kept reading this far, I know this is not on the list of information that you would find useful or even interesting. But, when I got to thinking of the fact that I would so hope my little grandson has the chance to see and experience the wonder of ‘fairy lights’…I wanted to know more about them. I want to know where they are. Cause I’m gonna take him. I’m gonna watch it once more through his eyes! And, then I’ll hold that memory as close as I do the ones of my sister and I. Have you seen any in this area?
There are so many wonders in the animal world…but none that I know of as enchanting as watching the yard ‘fill up with little fairy lights’. It’s an experience similar to seeing stars race across the sky. It’s something you never forget…even if you’re 63. It’s just a little ‘magical respite’ from long days and hot work in the sun. It’s in those few minutes between being out working and going into the house for the evening. It’s where you think, “Man, I’m tired, But got a lot of good stuff done today.” But, you just don’t quite want to go in and call it a day. You just stand and survey the world. Maybe hear God say, “Sit back. Put your feet up and watch! I’m have some friends who want to do a show…just for you!” And, He calls His fireflies to perform…just to delight you! Isn’t He a good God! I am remembering my days on the farms in NC with my aunts and Uncles. I can see my Uncle Arthur Lee drive up in his truck and come up under the carport….stomping the mud off his feet as he comes. Then he’d sit down on a chair and take his shoes off and then his cap, and run his fingers through his hair. And, just sit there for a few minutes. I’ve seen my uncle Charles and Uncle Jefferson do the same thing.
You know, I have a song playing in my head…sorta in the background…while I’ve been writing this post. Seems I remember that once upon a time I did a musical with a bunch of kids at school. It goes..“Angels and Lambs, Lady Bugs and Fire Flies told every person in sight that Jesus was born in Bethlehem on that Christmas night” I can even see the book I used. Hmm! Now that was not even in my head when I started this post. Funny, isn’t it, how thinking about fire flies leads to thinking about old summer time memories as a child and then to children and music I taught at school! Yeah, memory is a funny thing. And songs seem to really stay with me.
I hope you see some fire flies soon! Reckon what memories they will lead you to? I’d love to hear about it, if you’ll share. Just leave a comment at the end of the blog. I’ll see it!
PS. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has firefly tours!
Oh Tonja, just loved the "lightning bug" story! (Let's call them what they are!) My cousins and I had the most wonderful childhood getting filthy – staying out til we called home for supper! This was back when children could play outside with no fear – Nobody locked their doors (even at night in our little town). Imagination was all that was needed to invent most any and everything!! Love your stories-LaRhonda
Tonja, I enjoy your blogs so much. Was fun reminiscing about our childhood. I enjoyed the science lesson also.
We don't have fireflies here in Colorado – I think they need more humidity than we have, but I remember them from visits to Iowa. Part way through Kansas on our way you would start to see them. My cousins and I would catch them in a jar and we always had to let them go. Many great memories!