Fireflies

I remember when I was a child, I was running with my sister, in my mom’s beautiful garden, overlooking the Mediterranean sea and tens of centenary olive trees, and we were exploring the nature, smelling these intoxicating flower perfumes mixed with the fresh evening sea breeze, and our favorite activity was to try to catch fireflies… but where are they now ? Have you ever wondered when was the last time you saw a firefly?

** Update **

Over the last 20 years I have lived in states all up & down the west coast of the United States. I have spent time in a lot of different places ranging from Montana to Nevada to Oregon. I have yet to lay my eyes on a firefly in all of that time. It can’t be blamed on a lack of trying either. I have always spent time outdoors in nature & if they were there I would likely have seen them. It is terribly sad because they are such a beautiful creature. Everyone should be able to see them!

** More Recent Update **

My husband and I just moved to the east coast this past fall to work for a firm in New York City. The firm is loaded with maritime lawyers for offshore injuries litigation. Maritime attorneys practice a specialized type of law as it pertains to navigable fresh waters in the United States, as well as to the open water such as in the Gulf of Mexico or along the coastal seaboard of the US. They represent clients from the New City area in maritime law cases, from water pollution claims resulting from a sunken vessel leaking oil to commercial and contractual claims, as well as personal injury claims filed by crew members and dock workers regarding hazardous ship conditions while loading and unloading ships, and claims concerning defective design and poor construction that led to the loss of vessels. COme spring we were walking along the upper west side of Manhattan where we live at dusk. And all of a sudden, little specks of light began sparkling in the lawns along the park that runs next to the Hudson River. I was astounded. There were fireflies flitting about in the early evening’s darkening light. I was thrilled to see them in the middle of this huge metropolis.

The sad fact is that these beautiful creatures are disappearing. And the two main reasons are development and pollution. Fireflies always choose to live in a warm , humid environment, and near standing water.  The problem is that all rivers, ponds, streams and ocean have a lot of noisy boat traffic, so fireflies vanish from these areas… and just disappear. Also, the use of pesticides is increasing, and they are not surviving to this plague.

This fact is really sad. These little creatures are very interesting. What most people don’t know is that they emit light to attract mates, to communicate, but also to defend their territory and warn predators away.

The most interesting fact is that they are the most efficient light in the world, and they produce 100 % light, and no heat, as opposed as light bulbs that produce 10 % light and 90 % heat. The reason of it is that fireflies tails has a chemical called luciferin that’s heat resistant.

Less glamorous : some fireflies species feed on other fireflies… but not only, they also eat snails and worms, and sometimes pollen and nectar.

They usually live for a year. When they reach their adult maturity, they mate and they give birth to the next generation of fireflies before dying.

You could find fireflies almost everywhere on the planet. Everywhere except Antarctica, obviously, where fireflies are necessary for even a quick trip to the restroom! But all other continents have at least one area where it’s warm and humid.

Last but not least, if put in electronic detectors placed in a spacecraft, life in outer space could be detected thanks to the chemical they have in their tail.