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.