Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Lights of Summer

The first night we stayed in our new home I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the vacant property next to us (the one with the foot high weeds) was alive with the twinkling light of Fireflies. I haven't seen Fireflies in Florida since I was a kid, and actually hadn't thought much about them since then either. The discovery brought back childhood memories of warm, sticky summer nights and the delight of watching the luminescent little creatures buzz off and on. I quickly yelled for my daughter to come outside. Her mouth fell open with the discovery of such a unique insect. She instantly named them "glitter bugs."

I looked them up on Wikipedia and discovered some interesting facts. Even the eggs and larvae of some species glow, and that's where the name "glow worm" comes from. They are beetles and 90% of the firefly's energy is converted into light. In some areas (including North Carolina) large groups of them synchronize their flashes. Here is a real interesting tidbit of information, especially if you're a male firefly - The male flashes patterns of light to the female. The females signal in response from the ground (they don't fly). When he sees her flash back, he continues to signal and move closer. Some females of different species have become so good at mimicking the right flash in order to prey on the males. As the male flies down to the mimicking female, he is captured and eaten - this process is referred to as "femme fatale." And, they call females the weaker sex!!!

Now, whenever we stay at the new house, I make a point to go out and enjoy the mysterious blinking summer lights.

2 comments:

Meems said...

i haven't thought of fireflies in a very long time either. we used to catch them in jars and watch them snap & pop around inside.

interesting research on the "mimicking" females. this is a fairly correct scenario of males of other species... they are easily deceived. :-)

Susan said...

Meems...Indeed they are!!!

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