If I were asked to identify a favorite insect, without hesitation I’d pick the firefly, or as many folks refer to them, the lightning bug. To the best of my knowledge these nocturnal members of the beetle family are innocuous. I’ve never been pinched, stung or bitten by one.
Fear is fascinating.
It’s intended to prompt a person to avoid dangerous or potentially deadly situations. But its influence can be so powerful that it debilitates an individual from fleeing the person, place, thing or situation that is scaring them.
There’s no telling what someone will be afraid of. According to Sigmund Freud, animal phobia (zoophobia) is one of the most frequent psychoneurotic diseases among children.
Under the heading of zoophobia is entomophobia, which is commonly referred to as the “fear of insects or bugs.” There are specific types of entomophobias, such as the fear of spiders and scorpions (arachnophobia) or bees (apiphobia).
To the best of my knowledge, I have no entomophobias. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t squeal like a schoolgirl if a black widow spider dropped out of one of my boots.
To be sure there are insects I have little use for - wasps, hornets, flies, fleas, chiggers, ticks, termites and mosquitoes.
There are, however, members of the insect world I admire. I appreciate the work ethic of ants, unless I spot them running across a kitchen counter. I applaud the honey-producing skills of bees, especially when I’m pouring the tasty results of their labor on a hot knot roll. I admire the beauty of butterflies, particularly when one sits still long enough to allow me to snap a few photos.
However, if I were asked to identify a favorite insect, without hesitation I’d pick the firefly, or as many folks refer to them, the lightning bug.
To the best of my knowledge these nocturnal members of the beetle family are innocuous. I’ve never been pinched, stung or bitten by one.
I’ve read that these fascinating little creatures communicate their sexual availability with one another through their flashing “tail lights.” It leads me to wonder if certain flashing rhythms are actually asking, “Hey baby, what’s your sign?” While other flashes translate into, “Buzz off!”
When I look outside around dusk on a late spring/early summer evening I can’t help but pause and stare as twinkling fireflies arise from the grass in a neighbor’s yard.
As I drove home one evening from a recent trip, I couldn’t help but notice the flashes of hundreds of lightning bugs from the roadside weeds. It reminded me of a time years ago when Nancy, my wife, and I were returning from a trip to see our youngsters at camp. We pulled our car over, turned off the engine, cut power to the headlights and sat mesmerized watching literally millions of fireflies put on a silent light show over the tall grass that borders the river.
As a father, lightning bugs have provided a playful link with my children. Together we would spend hours chasing them until either mosquitoes or the kids’ looming bed time forced us to go inside.
Fireflies also trigger a fond childhood memory. Countless summer nights were spent catching and confining fireflies in a glass jar that had air holes poked in its lid. When my Mom would toss me in the bathtub to wash off a layer or two of grit accumulated during a hard day’s play, she would frequently put the firefly-filled jar on the sink and turn out the light. As I soaked in the cool water, I’d watch the lightning bugs twinkle. After enjoying them I would take the jar outside, open the lid and release my captives in the hope of seeing them again the next night.
Is it crazy to have a favorite bug? Maybe. But it’s hard not to be fond of a creature that is associated with so many good memories.