In the Smoky Mountains National Park, the fireflies sync up their flashes, which is called simultaneous bioluminescence. The firefly is part of the beetle family, which makes it a beetle as opposed to a bug. Its scientific name is luciferin. Lucifer is the base which, which means light bearing.
Even though there are over 2000 types of fireflies, not all of them light up. If you’ve seen fireflies in your youth or currently, count yourself blessed. The insect is vanishing. The most common reason is chemicals. When we douse everything with a deadly chemical bath, butterflies, bees, and fireflies die, too. Another reason has to do with urban sprawl. Light pollution drives away the fireflies. If your only way to attract a mate is to light up, not too many females will see the message with all the competing lights from dawn to dusk home lights, street lights, and the glow from the large screen television inside the home. Consider the shopping malls, the gas stations, all the various business that stay lit when they’re not open. It drives away the fireflies.
The day after the July 4th, which involves our neighbors sending endless fireworks into the sky I was surprised to see lightning bugs in my yard. They were buzzing around the bird feeder tree flickering off and on. I counted three, which mean there had to be some unseen females in the dark. Personally, I was surprised to see them since I live in a neighborhood with a ton of light pollution. That meant they were behaving in an uncharacteristic way. What does seeing a firefly mean?
When people saw them in a cemetery, they believed the fireflies represented souls dancing about. Besides being associated with ancestors, they are also associated with the fae. Remember fairies can take on different forms. Some photos taken of lightning bugs have revealed a creature that wasn’t a bug, at all.
The symbolism depends on your personal situation at the time. Often fireflies, like butterflies, appear when you are in grieving or feel hopeless to remind you there is a way out of the long tunnel you find yourself in. The firefly reminds us that we have it within ourselves to light our own way. We don’t need to wait for someone else to lead the way. It also reminds us that we don’t have to look like a superstar to be a shining star. The beetle’s daytime appearance is rather ordinary and could be dismissed as just another flying bug. During the day, I find the bioluminescent beetle resting on a plant leaf with its most notable feature turned off. It demonstrates good energy management as it plans out the night activities. This can be a lesson to us—we don’t have to shine all the time. If we did, it would no longer be special.
A brief flash on a dark night causes surprise. It awakens a child-like sense of wonder and awe. It inspires our creative side. Even though we might not be able to decipher what the firefly is saying, we can still appreciate it. Knowing more about it, helps to understand its appearance in our lives.
Lightning bugs fly slowly through the air unlike the bee. They want to be seen. It also makes them easy to catch. Sadly, some websites advise catching these bugs for a ritual. Caught fireflies panic inside a glass jar beating their delicate bodies against the hard sides and lid with ragged hole punched into it. Often, they die inside the jar. If they’re still alive when released, they’ll die shortly after. Enjoy the fireflies without capturing them. If they want to come to your outdoor ritual they will. (Can you imagine the outcome of a love spell if it involved sending an natural creature to an early demise?)
The next time you spot a firefly remember what you were thinking just before or that day. See how the firefly messages applies to it.