Don’t Shoot Till You See the Lights of Their Fireflies

Last night, I afforded my two younger children a rare treat. I let them stay up late enough to go firefly catching.

It wasn’t just for their benefit. I have had a rough week and there are few things more entertaining than watching a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old run around hunting for a few lights that randomly flash on and off. It’s like Snipe hunting except they might really catch something.

We ended up having a wonderful time and the boys caught a grand total of 8 fireflies. We went to bed with a reading of the classic “Sam and the Firefly“. Then came the hard questions that always happen after a night of firefly hunting with an experienced firefly hunter (the 5-year-old has done this 3 times before).

“Mommy, will the fireflies be dead in the morning?”

I don’t lie on questions like these. Morning comes soon enough and tears are not something I want to deal with at 6AM. My 5-year-old asks if they may be allowed to go back outside one more time to let them go. There are times when my kids make me proud without knowing it.

I have read again and again that fireflies are a dying summer phenomenon, like ice cream trucks and riding a bike with the wind in your hair. Supposedly, it is because of pesticide use and habitat loss, but I have to wonder if the fact that companies have put a bounty on the bodies of fireflies has anything to do with it. WANTED: Dead or Alive. Funny, I didn’t think fireflies looked deadly or dangerous.

Turns out the butts of those firefly fairy lights I spent countless summer nights chasing after are actually pretty useful, everything from a cure for cancer to detecting extraterrestrial life forms.

And to think, I always thought they were just a magical part of summer.

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