Where did all the fireflies go?

Photo: Fireflies, by Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia CC

Fireflies, a.k.a. lightning bugs, were a big event at Fourth of July picnics during my western Pennsylvania childhood. Our pack of cousins and siblings ran and yelped through the swarms after dark. Fireflies don’t bite, sting, or make noise, so no one stopped us from chasing the tiny lights while adults picked up the day’s picnic and packed the family automobiles.

Fireflies were so numerous that they could brighten the night. Little did we know that the lights, a product of the insect’s “bioluminescence,” were key to their courting ritual. The aerial dance insured fireflies would flash again next year.

Unfortunately, they aren't so numerous any more. As with many stories of insect decline, human practices impinge on the insect's ability to feed, overwinter, and reproduce. 

To learn more, see the complete article at https://www.zip06.com/living/20200708/where-did-all-the-fireflies-go.

In 2019, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation published an extensive report on the state of firefly survival titled “Conserving the Jewels of the Night.” (Free download at bit.ly/Jewels-of-the-Night.)