The following is reprinted from the August, 1998 edition of Janna Publications, a humanitarian and environmental newsletter that I wrote, illustrated, and published twice each year from 1995 to 2001.
During the month of June, the annual ritual is begun by those innocuous little creatures – the lightning bugs, or fireflies, as they are called in some parts of the country. At dusk, their blinking lights emerge from grass and garden. As the evening wears on, they rise in a great twinkling wave, higher and higher from the ground. Then, just before midnight, they are among the treetops, where they signal to each other in a spectacular, quietly-frenzied display!
Would you want them to disappear? Would you wish them harmed? No, neither would I. Nor do I want to know the mechanical intricacies of their lighting apparatus. But, this summer, a more elaborate version of last year’s newspaper ad appeared in print, urging people to catch these insects, freeze them, and cash them in for payment by the ounce; the ad also said to "avoid thawing or they will become worthless". Worthless? This strikes me as crass, crude, cruel, and ridiculous. I think that their aesthetic worth is singularly phenomenal.
One of the verses of a children’s song I wrote several years ago goes like this: "Firefly, lightning bug, shine your light. On and off in the summer night". Should we now add "May your magic somehow manage to stay with us and may you avoid the laboratory’s collection jar? You’re safe in my yard.
Enjoy their night-show.