Night Lights

They used to be as common as sonic booms.

I’m referring to fireflies. Where I grew up, we called them lightning bugs. And for the first time in years (decades, actually), I saw them again. Everywhere.

I went out one evening to our patio to feed our peacock when I noticed a dim light out of the corner of my eye.

I looked and it was gone. But then there it was again. And another near it. Then another.

It clicked as to what I was seeing.

I smiled. I thought they were gone forever.

My youth was filled with cool, May evenings with the hovering lights produced by these amazing creations God gave us.

My sister and I would catch them and put them in an empty jar with holes we had poked in the lid.

But sometime around my high school years I stopped seeing them. Being more focused on cars and girls at that time, I didn’t think much about it. But I did notice that they stopped showing up each spring.

That was in Arkansas in the 1970s. I hadn’t seen them in Texas either since I moved to the state in the 80s.

So when I saw them again this year for about a two-week period, it made me happy.

Lampyridae is the family of insects to which fireflies belong. According to, they’re a type of beetle in the order Coleoptera and over 2,000 species of them live around the world.

About 150 of those are in the United States.

Bioluminescence is what they do. They make the light using chemicals they produce.

But the light isn’t a show for us; it’s often used to attract a mate or prey.

But why were my early years filled with fireflies and then they weren’t around? Or at least I wasn’t seeing them.

Remember that web search I mentioned? Two theories I found on another website point to two possibilities – the expansion of humans into their habitats (they live in wet areas), and light pollution.

We may be building so many of our homes that we are eliminating theirs. And the lights we use could be preventing us from seeing the ones that are around.

So, why am I seeing them now at my place? It’s possible that they found my area because we having the type of plants where they lay their eggs. And we have a pond.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad they came back.

If I see them again next year, I have an empty jar with holes poked in the lid ready to go.

©2019 John Moore

John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can reach John through his website at


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