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I grew up in Western Pennsylvania just outside the city of Pittsburgh. When I was a child and time moved at a slower pace, I tried to squeeze every moment I possibly could out of my summer break. I'd enjoy the day playing with neighborhood friends at the creek at the base of the woods. Our parents had forbade us to go into the woods so we never went beyond the creek which could be seen from the road. We "heard" terrible things had happened there. At dusk we'd run back up the hill to the safety of our families. After dinner, we'd come back outside to enjoy the warm summer air, catch a glimpse of a bat, and chase after fireflies. My parents had become good friends with the neighbors across the street and a few houses down. In fact, we were each other's back up families.  

In the evenings, my parents and our neighbors gathered in our front yard. They talked about adult things, and drank unidentified beverages from coffee mugs, while we ran around playing tag or catching lightening bugs. Sometimes we caught them in a jar and watched them light up. When I went away to college, I was pretty surprised to find out that some people had never seen these bioluminescent creatures before. Fireflies are beetles that produce a light in their lower abdomen that have no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. They produce a chemical called luciferin that flashes in yellow, green or pale red, illuminating for the purpose of attracting a female by the quality of their, um, flashing. While the males are flying around flashing, the females remain on a leaf or a branch and signal back. The sole purpose of their brief lives about to take place. Evolution has been good to fireflies, different types of fireflies flash in particular patterns so females can identify a suitable mate.  

Below is a time lapse video of fireflies by Vincent Brady. Brady began working on this project in the summer of 2012 during a warm spring that brought the fireflies out earlier than usual. The photographs from which the video is made were taken at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri and Grand Ledge, Michigan.  

I remember hearing the adults say the fireflies "came out early this year" too. Turns out there is a link between female emergence and "bright display" occurring earlier in the spring because of the warmer temperatures associated with Climate Change. But, firefly abundance is in decline overall because of habitat loss and artificial lighting. In the northeastern US, fireflies have been noticed in areas where they previously did not live. According to Michael Hoffman, an entomologist and the director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experimentation Station, fireflies may be illuminating New York City because of more rain during the spring season, also associated with Climate Change.

Firefly larvae (glow worms) feed on snails, slugs and other small invertebrates. With more moisture, the number of snails and slugs likely increase, providing more food for fireflies and insuring good populations of adults. Because some firefly larvae live more than one year, the moisture conditions of the previous spring and summer may also play a role. In addition, warmer winters may result in possibly reducing the mortality of overwintering larvae.

You can view Vincent Brady's wonderful photographs here.

Don Cheadle, one of the narrators in the TV series "Years of Living Dangerously" is asking for personal stories of how Climate Change is affecting us and our community. paradise50 wrote a diary for Monday's KTK with beautiful photographs of the blooms on his property. He noted

several flowering things are happening at unusual times, meaning way too damned early
and hitting their peak early too. If the life cycle of a plant, critter, or creature is affected by Climate Change, then so is all that is connected to it. Ecologists call this phenomenon a "mismatch" or a "mistiming." Naomi Klein writes
This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.
The migration patterns of many songbird species, for instance, have evolved over millennia so that eggs hatch precisely when food sources such as caterpillars are at their most abundant, providing parents with ample nourishment for their hungry young. But because spring now often arrives early, the caterpillars are hatching earlier too, which means that in some areas they are less plentiful when the chicks hatch, threatening a number of health and fertility impacts.
Read Naomi Klein's article, The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External: The climate crisis has such bad timing, confronting it not only requires a new economy but a new way of thinking, it is well worth it.
h/t Meteor Blades

I believe we all have a story of how Climate Change is affecting us whether or not we are aware of it. This is a good place to talk about it and develop a personalized story. Use the link below to tell OFA what your Climate Change story is. As you already know, personalizing a story helps others to identify and connect with the issue.


On hot summer nights me and my mama

Would lie on our backs in damp grass,

Counting whirling lightening bugs.

On this Earth day and her birthday,  

May the wild Louisiana ground protect her.

What are they mama? Why do they have

Lights inside them? Baby, those pretty

Lights flicker and spin to attract love.

If we lie real still and watch them, we will be

Covered in love, just covered up in love.

An older me would learn that fireflies

Flash to attract their mates and it is

Not good to place them in a jar, which

Interrupts the mating cycle. These days all

Firefly cycles are interrupted. Menaced.

Our planet is heating and the seasons have

Gone awry. Lightening bugs are

Suffering, as are all living things. Their very

Being is choking in interruption as mankind

Ravages the earth with consumptive greed.

Today, whirling in sadness, I’m remembering my

Twinkling mama who walked in grace and

Conserved everything she touched, long

Before Earth day, long before Jimmy Carter cared.

She worshiped the flashing of the fireflies.

Walking in sadness for the destruction, the

Waste and wantonness delivered to a planet that

Should be revered and conserved with

Every living thing, covered in love,

Covered in love, just covered up in love.


©Ruby S. Jones


For my mama and lightning bugs everywhere.

Thank you, rubyr and rubyr's mom, so very meaningful and beautifully written. You have my gratitude.

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

Originally posted to Kitchen Table Kibitzing on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

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