Here’s a postcard of summer captured at the edge of woods and a field in Warwick on a July evening. Fireflies, those soft-winged beetles that attract mates and prey by flashing their bioluminescent backsides, like it wet. That may be why people in these parts found this year’s light shows to be particularly breathtaking, notwithstanding the commonly held assumption that lightning bugs – what with light pollution and human encroachment – are in decline.
“I can tell you that we’ve had people ask the same thing: aren’t there a lot more?” said Pam Golben, director of the Wildlife Center at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, when asked if there were more lightning bugs around. “I honestly don’t know if it’s true or not. I know these nice warm humid nights, that’s a great time for them to be active and breeding, and we’ve certainly had an abundance of warm humid nights. I don’t know if we’re just seeing them more or there are more.”
“We’ve been seeing more turtle activity” after record rainfalls in May and June, she said. “Most insects do better if there’s more humidity, and not bone dry like last year.”
It may just be our little pocket of the world. Further north, in Ithaca, NY, Jason Dombroskie, the Cornell professor who eats bugs, said that “as with nearly all insects, numbers fluctuate greatly from year to year. Personally I’ve noticed vastly fewer at my place this year over last year.”
By Becca Tucker