The other day, my husband and I were reminiscing about our childhoods. He grew up just outside of Meknes, Morocco, and I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. The differences between our childhoods are enormous, but we both spent a good deal of time playing outside with our friends.
We rode bikes, played hide and seek, tag, a variety of games with balls and ran a lot. I don’t think kids do that much these days. We were drinking cocktails on our sun porch at sunset while we talked. The stars begin to shine through the changing sky and it reminded me of the first twinkling of fireflies.
Lightning bugs, we called them, were a huge part of my childhood and a true mark of summer. The long days, setting sun, dusk and then the fireflies came out, twinkling in all their glory. I hadn’t thought of them in years and described to him how we would capture them in jars to make a lantern, or cruelly squish their lamps out and place on our fingertips to make wild light shows.
As I described them to him, (he had heard of them but never seen them in real life) I thought about my recent trip to Nashville. My parents live on a lake. It seems an ideal place for fireflies. It’s not too far from where I grew up, so I know it is an area where they live. I hadn’t seen any fireflies! Well, my father feeds the geese that gather around the lake, so that must be why they stay away, right?
The next day, I thought about the fireflies again and began a little research. Where fireflies live, Mr. Google, I asked. He says they live in Asia and parts of the Americas. There are no known fireflies west of Kansas in the United States. Then I stumbled on several reports starting in 2016 about the extinction of fireflies. There are three major causes, light pollution, loss of habitat, and chemical pesticides. Fireflies live underground during the winter months, so when lawns are treated with chemicals, it kills them.
This makes me sad. My childhood world is or has become extinct. Kids don’t play outside so much. They don’t play hide and seek or ride their bikes in gangs around the neighborhood. Plus, they don’t catch fireflies and maybe there aren’t any.
Have you seen any lightning bugs lately? Please tell me yes!