When I was a child, we had access to a spectacular light show every night.
Not that we were allowed to watch it each evening, though. Still, these nightly firefly shows were exquisite treats when we were allowed to stay up late and during the summer.
When dusk overtook the sky completely, those beetles would illuminate the night.
The sight was and still is, enchanting to me.
Fireflies weren’t always regarded as magical, though. They were also considered harmless pests, much like the lovebug.
Some evenings, those fireflies would swarm and become so overbearing that you couldn’t walk or play without at least a handful tangled in your hair or clothes.
I imagine these swarms exist elsewhere, where the population is smaller, and there is less noise and light pollution, but I have yet to stumble across one.
The last time I spied a firefly was at my grandma’s house in June 2009.
I wrote about it in a column, and for more than a decade, I’ve wondered the fate of fireflies.
Those beautiful bugs were wonderful companions during the sweaty summer evenings at Grandma’s long ago.
Sometimes, a slight blessed breeze would blow across the property, and the yard would be filled with shadowy children, euphoric from the summer freedom and joyfully interacting with nature’s nightlife.
We’d run around in the dark — which wasn’t nearly as inky as it is now because we could see a starry night sky back then — and watch for the tiny lights that blinked around us.
And night after night, we danced with fireflies.
The only insects that seem to spring to life in the evening these days are genuine pests, like mosquitoes.
I figured my kids would never experience a dance with fireflies, but Google connected me with sources that informed me otherwise.
My online search led me to a 2019 article in Texas Monthly, “The Flight of the Texas Fireflies,” that stated areas of Houston, Dallas, a few national forests are home to a variety of fireflies. (If you know of any closer, please let me know).
I also came across the website firefly.org that features a field guide for Texas fireflies.
In an hour, I learned more about fireflies than I did my entire life.
Delighted by the idea to see some again, I announced to the family that a day trip to search for fireflies was in order.
My husband raised a concerned eyebrow.
My kids instantly tried to opt out of the quest because they hate flies, they informed me.
They did not want to see “flies with fire.”
Even when I showed them a video of fireflies in action, they were still skeptical.
Some things in life you must experience with your senses to appreciate, hence the hunt I have planned.
Once my kids realize these fireflies are splendid and gentle and not flies that can spit fire (they imagined them like dragons), I believe they’ll be wonderstruck.
I hope that when they’re grown and reflecting on the many ridiculous things my husband and I did as we were raising them, they’ll appreciate why I wanted to take them on this hunt for bugs.
Who knows, maybe they, too, will become fond of the “flies with fire.”
Reach Marquita Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.