This past summer we were walking with some friends when we heard some horrible crying somewhere. We thought that maybe someone needed help. A disgrace? I am a person with a vivid imagination and also when we discovered that everything was OK my brain was still in the "disgrace mood," tired and under shock.
When we returned home from this walk (we stopped by at the house of some friends) was night and I was still disturbed.
It was a beautiful night illuminated by hundreds of wonderful and dreaming fireflies. In the straight road close to our house, we were surrounded by trees in both sides of the road and by all those living lights in the middle. The scenario? A wonderful illuminated tunnel guiding us I thought in a magical land or another dimension and I felt peace, harmony and a complete restoration.
When I was little I loved to walk in our country roads during the summer-time with my friends, sharing thoughts and dreams and fireflies, stars and moon were there listening to us, and keeping us out from the terrible obscurity of the night.
Fireflies are the most magical creatures we know but...
How much we know them? I decided to explore their world reading the wonderful, magical book written with great love by Sara Lewis: Silent Sparks The Wondrous World of Fireflies published by Princeton Press.
When I read that fireflies are also associated at dead people I wasn't surprised.
There is a special aura in these creatures, a dimension of dream, magic, mystery that other animals don't have.
They follow us, our destinies, our pains, our expectations all along the summer-time, in our region very brief, like a dream and they are part of our thoughts, part of our chats, part of our projects still in motion, part of our hidden desires.
They're there, silent, but luminous like our unexpressed sensations, for reminding us of the short time we spend on this Earth and the importance of being a light in this world. A beautiful light. For giving us some restoration if we are too stressed and we search for a dimension distant from reality, because these creatures capture our imagination and escapism is more than possible.
These little animals are studied by a lot of scientists. I read a lot about them when I was 8-9 years thanks to a science book. It was one of the most passionate reading I did about an animal.
These scientists, starting from the author are passionate ones, who spend their time, their days and summer weeks following fireflies during their life and involving in most cases all their families in this passionate adventure.
Let's start to saying that a good environment will see fireflies joyous and abundant around and that of course pesticides alter their habitat. These animals in fact love to staying in the same place where they are born forever. Year after year. Generation after generation. Following the destiny of the people of the area, if we want to think at this poetically.
Their life is absolutely interesting. Do you know the story of the caterpillar and the butterfly?
There is a magical transformation. The ugly caterpillar will become a stunning butterfly thanks to a process called metamorphoses. A real magic.
A process like this one, although different will interest fireflies.
At first they born as larva and for 18 months what they will do is eating voraciously little animals. They kill victims paralyzing them and then they will do all the rest. Eating and eating and eating. Yes well, the comparison made by the author with Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde is great. Let's say that before the redemption, these little insects will kill avidly for obtaining food. In great quantity, because they have a great and good appetite. Once they end this phase of their existence for two weeks they are pupa for becoming then fireflies. Fireflies, the final stage, the one we see and observe and we love so badly, like all the insects don't have a long life. More or less 3 weeks of life but during this period they will search obsessively only for one thing: sex and reproduction with the best mate they find completely uninterested to food anymore.
So, when during the night you observe these beautiful lights, these ones are messages of love of males contacting females. When these females answer to them they create with these "light-messages" a beautiful light-song. When the intensity of feelings and lights are great, you can see it clearly because the two fireflies will live a deeply light-connection.
A sex session of a couple of fireflies after this long court is very long if compared to the one of mammals in general much more brief. It can takes and entire night, but also longest time.
You will also discover the complexity of the trip of sperm of the male firefly for reaching the female one and also the copulative phase of a little male with a wingless female very different from the fireflies we know.
You will discover that substantially the world of fireflies is very selective. Do you know that just few of them will copulate with their mate? Most of them will end up in enthusiastically hands of children, put in glasses for being observed closely, but when oxygen will be over the poor creatures will die. The worst case the one of spider webs because the light of firefly remains active and will attract other fireflies in the same spider web.
It's a karma-law or a law of nature if you prefer. If as a larva they ate voraciously other creature paralyzing their victims and eating them later, now other animals like spiders will do exactly the same job with them and their bodies. This book is amazing, because will capture you from the beginning to the end in a trip that it is sensual and sanguinary, beautiful and tremendous, enchanting and at the same time shocking.
It's the trip of a dream: the dream of light during the obscurity of the world. What does this mean? A firefly, before to appear in all its beauty and romanticism has been tremendous, because has known the obscurity and the devastation of death caused by the larva, the first of its stadium, eating and predating, killing without compassion other creatures for its own nutrition.
Just in this little final, romantic phase firefly sees the beauty of the world, what it means to be free, what it means to be alive and what it means to love, be loved and remaining thanks to the copulative act and the deposition of eggs and perpetuity of life. Most important: to bring after all the obscurity it brought, light and dream to the world.
Metaphorically fireflies live the opposite life of a human being or any other animal: they lives the most ugliest moments of the existence developing cruelty in the first part of their life , enjoying peace, happiness, light, in chemical sense, of course but also metaphorically and sex only in the latest part. They donate to people the best of them: serenity, enchantment, dreams, expectations, peace and let's hope that these creatures will remain with us forever.
Enjoy this book, as I did. It is plenty of a lot of other informations! For everyone children and adults and for all the dreamers and romantic people of this world.
Another great book from Princeton Press that you must read!
I thank Princeton University Press for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori