If you get up early enough, you’ll have noticed in recent days, even if you know you’re going to sweat it out through the afternoon, a light jacket feels pretty good, which is one of the sure signs that there will be a season to follow summer.
While there are still some last summer evenings to enjoy, it’s a good time to experience for ourselves that conundrum that scientists around the nation are discussing these days.
Are there fewer fireflies out there?
Or is it just that the only summer evening experience Americans tend to have these days is rushing from our air conditioned cars into our air conditioned houses, where our kids play video games and we stare at the computer, and no one bothers to enjoy a summer evening in the back yard.
According to a recent Associated Press report: “Scientists concerned by reports from the public that they are seeing fewer of the luminous insects each summer have turned to a network of backyard volunteers spanning much of the nation to track their range and numbers. Their observations may shed light on whether fireflies are indeed declining — a trend that could dwindle the targets for the childhood rite of passage of chasing fireflies.
“About 200 firefly species found east of the Rocky Mountains produce through a complex chemical reaction lights ranging from yellow-green, yellow-amber to a pale blue. Light-producing fireflies aren’t found west of the Rockies.
“Each of the light-producing beetle species has its own unique signaling pattern to attract mates, some blinking, others flickering with their light never turning off.
“Since the online Firefly Watch debuted in May 2008, about 5,100 people from 42 states have entered firefly data they collected in their yards, local parks and meadows, said Paul Fontaine, the Boston museum’s vice president of education. Fontaine said the museum is committed to operating the program and database for at least 10 years to provide a year-to-year snapshot of firefly distribution.”
Great Bend still seems to have a pretty healthy firefly population, though it is, as it has always been, more active after the weather has been wet. Maybe the bugs are more conductive then.
But you have to get out after dark and you have to watch for them.
It may well be that they show up best when you are trying to get an extra half hour out there after your mom has already told you it was time for bed.
Hard to tell.
One thing is for sure — you won’t spot them if you don’t go out and look.
— Chuck Smith