Fireflies

Saw fireflies last night. We were walking in Crag’s Omaha neighborhood, shortly after sundown, and there they were: a small greenish blinking light in the yard to our left, two others closer and brighter in the street in front of us.

Can’t remember seeing fireflies as an adult, nor in West Texas. My sightings were all as a child, in Dallas, near Mom Staples’s place in the White Rock Lake area.

Did some research last night. They aren’t flies; they’re beetles in the family Lampyridae. In the U. S., they live in warm, humid climates, almost none west of Kansas. Of course.

One authority says the blinking is done mostly by females to attract a mate. Evidently, each has a distinctive light, which is produced by a chemical reaction and can be yellow, green or a pale red. All are designed to lure a sex partner of one’s own sub-family.

Sometimes, a female emits an “aggressive mimicry,” which is a color and frequency meant to dupe a male of another fam, who, when he falls for the bait, is promptly eaten by the false lover. Sounds like a story out of Proverbs 6.

When we got back to the motel, a boy was capturing fireflies in a bottle.

Wish it were that easy: to capture the magic lights around us, to be released at a needier time, in a darker place.

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