What happened to the lightning bugs?

Posted on 27. Jul, 2011 by

Have you noticed anything different in your backyard at night these past few summers? More specifically, does something seem to be missing?

Where are all the fireflies, or lightning bugs as I called them as a kid?

I remember when I was young how fun it was to try to catch fireflies. Like most kids, I’d put them in a glass bottle with holes poked in the top and watch them glow.

Now the only time I see a firefly is when I see “Ray,” the firefly character on one of my daughter’s favorite movies, “The Princess and the Frog.”

So what has caused this disappearance? Researchers at Texas A&M University can’t say for sure, but it is suspected that our severe drought has had a large impact. Other possible reasons: urbanization, fire ants, pesticides or other creatures that enjoy fireflies for a good meal.

If you want to see fireflies (which are technically beetles more than flies, the researchers point out), you can still find them in plentiful numbers in other parts of the country, particularly in the midwest, south and northeast.

By the way, ever wonder how the bugs make that glow? Here’s how the A&M scientists explain it: “Fireflies produce a chemical reaction inside their bodies that allows them to light up. This type of light production is called bioluminescence. The flashing — both males and females light up — is a huge neon sign to other fireflies that it is time to mate.”

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