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We have in our backyard one firefly, so far as I can tell. He lazily wanders around among the foliage, illuminating his heinie periodically, unconcerned with his solitary existence. I try to visit him every night, at least for a few minutes. He doesn't understand my apprehension.

When I was a kid, back in the Sixties, I remember our evening yard being full of fireflies in Old Greenwich. Like most idiot children of the time, I captured them in a mayonnaise jar. We punctured holes in the lid with a flathead screwdriver so the bugs could 'breathe' for whatever time in captivity they had left. It was usually not very long, and we'd have a jar bottom carpeted in dead fireflies in a couple hours. (Some of my evil little friends used to take the insect and smear their luminescent hindquarters on their shirts, and as cool as they thought they were, that kind of wholesale bug torture never appealed to me.)

I also remember sitting on the mayor's porch in Oxford, Mississippi with the various members of the Continental Drifters, watching a firefly convention at some point in the 1990's. No capture, no bug persecution, just sincere admiration on our part; fireflies figured prominently on the cover of our debut album, you will recall.

And now, I have just one single firefly to admire. My overactive sense of guilt makes me wonder how much I contributed to their population shrinkage. Of course, that'd have to be extended to me and every other kid in America who took advantage of their slow-moving flight.

Where did they all go? What happened to them?

I miss that blanket of flashing lights from my childhood every time I see my little nightly visitor. I hope he's not as lonely as he makes me feel.


Pat R. said…
Thanks for a great post. I was thinking the same thing the other night as I went for a post-dusk walk. A random lightening bug here and there, but few and far between. I too, remember as a kid being outside and seeing tons of them. Where did they all go?
Pat R. said…
One observation found on line---

"...scientists believe firefly's aren't mating as often anymore because of all the city light and street lights and other lamps and lights that are on all night-- they light up to find a mate and so many are confused and mistaking the fluorescent lights for false lights and not mating..."
Where have all the fireflys gone? l guess they split with the bees. Einstein said as go the bees, goes the human race or something to that effect.
It's not a good sign. None here either.
Anonymous said…
What about all those useless jar lids with holes knocked in them? Where did they go?
Anthony Rabun said…
They are all in my backyard, hundreds and hundreds of them.
We have lots of fireflies...although by this late in the summer they're usually few and far between....but we have had many a night of watching the kids catching them and putting them in jars....

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