Where have all the fireflies gone?

Thank you Rachel Carson? Please. banning DDT has contributed to the death of over 90 million people.


don’t just reflexively dismiss this, look at the references. Actually read those studies.

Welcome to the boards.

If you add a link to the article, it helps others to follow along.

You can simply cut and paste the url or you can dress it up using tags:

Where have all the fireflies gone?

BTW, this is a SDSTAFF report by Doug.

The person who wrote in has had the opposite experience from mine. This year in Texas we have a bumper crop of lightnin’ bugs. I’ve never seen so many.

It’s also the wettest year in a long time, which I’m sure has increased the snail/slug population (I didn’t know until I read this column that they eat snails and slugs).

Another critter doing very well this year is frogs.

Yes, and here is an article critiquing Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, who is the primary author of the links you have given. Dr. Edwards’ predeliction to dismiss things like global warming, and to promote the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche pretty much guarantees that much of what he says will be taken with grains of salt.

The DDT issue is complicated. Likely, the pesticide causes significant problems when overused, as it was in America. Obviously, unwillingness to use the pesticide in various other parts of the world has hampered the attempt to eradicate malaria bearing mosquitos in populated areas. National Geographic had a very good treatment of this a couple months ago. However. there is a valid criticism that any attempt to utilize pesticides to suppress mosquito populations will simply promote pesticide resistant mosquitos, thus failing to solve the problem, and, instead, exacerbating it. Malaria needs to be cured; killing mosquitos is not the way.

Finally, about Dr. Carson: She never advocated a complete ban on use of DDT. Instead, she said, “Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than 'Spray to the limit of your capacity.” This advice was sound, is sound, and will always be sound.

I read it. Your first link claims that since the banning of DDT in the United States in 1972, there have been 14 billion cases of malaria in the developing world, and 90 million deaths.

Meanwhile, the WHO, where your link claims to have gotten some of its numbers from, estimates the death toll from malaria to be 1 million per year.

I’d say the greater numbers on your linked cite are better attributed to “death by javascript”.

If not pillars.

I live about 75 miles west of Indy, and I have to say that our lightning bug (firefly) population was stellar this year! As a matter of fact, it was almost like we had 2 ‘seasons’ of them - they first started appearing in May, and were very heavy in June. They dwindled down in early July, then towards the end of July they popped right back up! Now we’re seeing them dwindle down again.

The population in our area - not just this year, but for many years in the past - has been such that I liken it to having “Christmas in July”… there are so many up in the trees and in the grasses and fields that it looks like millions of Christmas tree lights.

I have to say, having lived in this area all my life, that the recent population of lightning bugs has incredibly increased since my childhood days.

We also have a good population of frogs. I can’t say about the slugs and snails, but I suspect they are doing just fine, too.

A few additional comments about “fireflies”. First off, they aren’t flies at all, but beetles in the family Lampyridae. As I recall, some species of adults are also known as “click” beetles due to their predilection to suddenly flexing their thorax/abdomen to flip off into space (and to escape a potential predator).

Second, the adults are pretty omnivorous/carnivorous, but the larvae (also caused “grubs”) are the ones that supposedly feed on molluscs and annelids in the soil, although I tend to wonder just how common these prey items are. Lots of beetle larvae are more herbivorous than carnivorous–but I don’t really have any first-hand knowledge about the larvae of these guys.

There are some great studies of the females of some species of these beetles (“fireflies”) that learn to mimic the flashing pattern of different species of females in order to attract in a particular male of the “same” species. As soon as the male lands on the same leaf and gingerly makes its way towards the flashing source, the female doing the flashing of the incorrect signal pounces on the hapless suckered male and devours him! Sex can be hazardous to one’s health, not only in insects, but in other species as well (such as spiders!).

THAT’S where they all are! You Texans are hoarding them!

Seriously, the family flod travelled to Pennsylvania this summer to visit family. The youngest flodnak only clearly remembers our most recent trip to the States, which was in the winter, and has some bits-and-pieces memories of an earlier summer trip. He didn’t remember lightning bugs. When I told them about them, he was looking forward to getting out there with a jar and catching some… but when we actually got there, the lightning bugs were so scarce that he gave up pretty quickly. :frowning:

One possible reason for the scarcity of lightnin’ bugs is kids catching them and squishing them on their arms to make “tattoos”. :eek: (No, I never did but my playmates did.)
Haven’t seen many of them here in northern North Carolina this year as compared to last though.

Drought has darn near killed off all of Tennessee’s fireflies.

All creatures known as “xflies” are not flies. If they are flies, then they are called “x flies”, not “xflies”.

Pout. I’ve never seen one. They sound enchanting. Can we have some on the west coast? Trade you some, um, we got slugs galore.

Not to be confused with the X Files, which dealt with bees.

When I visited my folks in Virginia last summer (they were RVing near Natural Bridge) I loved to see the fireflies come out every night. I didn’t know how big those things were…as far as insects go, they’re on the large side.


Fireflies?!! None of those…fair number of LIGHTNING BUGS (their scientifically correct name) though. We were a little shy of the usual evening razzle-dazzle this year, prolly because of the unseasonal late hard freeze. :frowning:

That same freeze killed all the peaches too…

The “scientifically correct name” of any animal is NEVER the common name in English. It is the Latin genus and species name. In this case, all fireflies/lightening bugs/glow worms are of the family Lampyridae. For example, you might have Lampyris noctiluca, the larval form of which is the “glow worm.” Or you might have Photinus pyralis, the common eastern firefly/lightening bug.

Usage of the terms firefly and lightening bug will be dependent upon region, primarily. But they are essentially interchageable, and neither is more “scientifically correct” than the other.

Have a rum-and-coke or two, DSY. Chill. :slight_smile:

Oh, and this Firefly’s right here. :cool:

Yes, according to entomologists, that is the proper use. Dragonflies and butterflies and fireflies, but house flies and horse flies. See this from the University of Kentucky, for example.