Friday, July 10, 2009

Where are the Lightning Bugs?

Where have the lightning bugs gone?

One of the highlights of each summer when I was a little girl was watching my mother poke holes in a mayonnaise jar lid with her ice pick for my lightning bug jar. I could hardly wait for the sun to set on those hot Georgia days so that my friend, Marcia, and I could start catching lightning bugs.

In those days we didn’t have Daylight Saving Time, so even on the longest day of the year in June, dusk would begin to settle on Winnona Drive around 7:00 in the evening, and it would be dark by 8:30. Marcia and I waited impatiently after meeting up on the sidewalk after we had eaten our suppers, holding our jars and scanning the shrubbery and lawns for the first lightning bug to light up its little tail. Some evenings, there were so many lightning bugs we couldn’t keep up with them. We’d fill our jars with the little glow worms and count and compare to see who caught the most.

I remember one night when I was barely more than a toddler that my mother let me bring my jar of lightning bugs into the house to set beside my bed for the night. I watched them blinking on and off, and got the wonderful idea that they would be so much happier if they could fly around my room and not have to stay inside the jar. I unscrewed the jar and watched as each little bug discovered that freedom was at the lip of the jar, as one by one they climbed the sides of the jar and lifted off into my bedroom sky. The next morning my mother was horrified at what I had done. It took her several days to round up all of the errant lightning bugs and free them to the outdoors where they belonged. After that day, I was allowed to catch lightning bugs in the evenings with Marcia, but I had to release them before going into the house when it was too dark to stay outdoors.

Yesterday, while working in my garden, I found a lightning bug resting on a bean leaf. As I thought about it, I realized that it has been a long, long time since I’ve seen the evening sky sparkling with lightning bug lights. I went out onto my deck yesterday evening to see if I could see any in the pine woods surrounding our home. I didn’t see a one!

I want to know --- what has happened to all of the lightning bugs?!