It's a hot and heavy firefly season, but you'd better look fast while the looking is good.
So says Ted Burk, a Creighton University biologist who keeps tabs on issues such as insect sexual activity around Omaha because he's “among we quirky few that never outgrow our bug stage.”
The thick, persistent snow cover that many people complained about all winter paid off for fireflies, Burk said. It insulated the top layer of soil from the deepest freezes, allowing more fireflies-to-be to survive in their burrows. Then an unusually warm May accelerated everything.
“It seems to me we are a week or two ahead of our normal seasonality,” he said, judging the lightning-bug turnout this year to be “well above average,” though not spectacular.
For fans who see blinking bug butts as one of summer's joys, the show is soon to fade. Firefly season usually runs from about mid-June to mid-July, with stragglers flickering on into early August, he said. “The big numbers will probably start to fall off pretty sharply pretty soon now.”
It's a meat market out there, you know. All that heinie illumination is about Mr. Firefly searching for Ms. Right.
He flashes from the air: “Hey, babee!”
She flashes back — if she likes what she sees — from the ground.
He zooms in, hoping to be the first suitor in line. Love blooms. And the foundation of future firefly seasons is laid.
In fact, the firefly is a symbol of passionate love in Japan, where the insect's first appearances are followed intently and mapped in the news, along with dragonfly and cicada sightings, Burk said.
“We in the West don't pay that kind of close attention to nature anymore, especially the small and inconspicuous things like insects,” he said. “I think we miss out on a lot of little pleasures in life by not paying more attention.”
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