To catch and release a lightning bug was our summer “learn to try” challenge of the week.
Like Week 1’s Do a Cartwheel, I thought this was going to be a gimme. And, I was happy about that. I’m easing myself into this new summer routine and congratulating myself each day everyone makes it where they’re supposed to go (various camps, daycare, work, runs, etc.) by 9 am or so.
So, it’s not that catching a lightning bug is hard. It’s just that I never realized how semi-serendipitous it is. Before I get to the story of our bugs, let me back up…
To prepare for this week, we made a trip to the library. We had to go there anyway because the kids needed more books. Marin and Baya are in a fierce competition to see who can fill out the lines on their summer reading lists first. This race isn’t exactly fair for a couple of reasons, but I’m just the supplier in this case- not judging. We loaded up on books with covers that caught their attention. We then moseyed over to the animal section and picked out a couple on fireflies. Linc insisted on getting one on marsupials because you never know when a kangaroo might hop by while we’re out catching bugs. He wanted to be prepared.
We then had like five nights in a row of being busy doing other things. So, our bug catching had to wait.
Finally, it seemed like a good night so we cracked open the books. I immediately put the first one back into the bag- too many words. Seriously, people, I’m not trying to lay here all night reading. The second was much more what I had in mind.
- Fireflies aren’t flies. They’re beetles. (I’d suspected as much because I don't hate them.)
- They blink to find a mate.
- And, they come out at dusk.
As I read this, I looked out the window. It was entirely dark. Oops. We ran outside and wandered around the yard for a while. Nuthin’
That meant corralling the kids back inside with a promise to try the next night.
On our do-over night, we dutifully sat on the front step and waited. The blinks did come, alas they were across the street. We kept looking and hoping to find one in our yard. Nuthin’
Finally, we decided our neighbors wouldn’t mind and we all headed over to catch one and transplant him (and a friend because you know) to our side of the street.
This week’s challenge had me feeling nostalgic and concerned. Growing up, I remember zillions of them in our backyard in Silver Spring, Maryland. Why weren’t there any fireflies in our yard here in Falls Church?* I don’t know.
- Maybe it’s just bad luck
- Maybe it’s our landscaping. We don’t have any “leaf litter” or many low trees or bushes where they seem to enjoy growing up and hanging out.
- But, maybe it's because we get sprayed for mosquitoes. There are conflicting statements on the web but, sadly, it seems to make sense. This article from the Post outlines the possible contributors- include pesticides. It’s something to consider next year.
Now we can check the box “complete” on Week 2’s summer “learn to try” challenge.
The kids seemed to enjoy the release even more than the catch itself. Our pair of bugs wasn’t in the jar for 2 seconds before the girls were hollering to let them go. So, we did. We’re hoping they like our yard. We’d love for them to settle in and raise a family here. As the second took off from the edge of the jar, Marin said, “Go on, little buggy. If I could fly, I’d be up there too.”
*Maryland friends: Yes, I remember many, many more fireflies growing up in Silver Spring than I see now in Falls Church. Settle down. This anecdotal observation isn’t additional evidence add to your very short list of things that make Maryland better than Virginia. Until you have wine in your grocery stores (ALL OF THEM), Virginia will be the better state. Love you! Blink, blink.