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Brian W. Porter

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Lightning Bugs
By Brian W. Porter
Monday, October 26, 2009

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Where have all the lightning Bugs Gone?

Where are the lightning bugs?

In summers past, as I drove through the night, I would hear a crack as if a drop of sleet hit the windshield and watch as a glowing yellow-tinged spot slowly faded on the windshield. Sometimes I would have two or three of those spots appear at the same time, on different parts of the windshield, fading out in front of my eyes. This year I had only one spot.

Way back in history, in the early sixties, I would run around with other kids in the neighborhood and hunt the blinking lights. Blink. I would run to where it was and search, and then over there, blink. I would run to where I saw the flash. Blink. I would run again and find the spot of blackness floating in the glowing dusk, and capture the black spot. Clasped in two hands so not to crush it, I would wait, and between my fingers I would see the flash. Then, when I opened my hand, I could watch the beetle climb my upheld finger on tickling feet and fly off when it reached the tip.

Once, I tried to make a lightning bug lamp. I punched holes in a jar lid and caught bug after bug until I could not count them, but they would not shine long enough. I could not read without the electric light.

When I was young, all the kids in the neighborhood would chase lightning bugs until it was too dark to see and we had to go to bed. This year I did not hear the kids chasing the bugs at night, I did not see the flashes on the warm nights, and I did not see the glowing spots on my windshield. Is it that the summer was too cool, or maybe too wet? Has climate change moved them to another location? Are they near extinction?

Where are the lightning bugs?

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