not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lightning Bugs + Love.

Tonight was one of those magical nights in South Jersey. It's these magical moments that keep me coming back to my hometown. Susan and Iggy joined Mom, Dad and me for a delicious dinner. We finished with a Jersey staple, some cold watermelon. The evening was beautiful, warm and inviting. Dad rested on the couch and mom + I took the dogs for a stroll. A few minutes down the way we were passing Mrs.Novasack's house and I recommended that we pop into to say hello. Mrs.Novasack has lived on this street for years and years and years. She is 84 years young and just lovely. Her husband passed away almost three years ago, and there isn't a day that passes that she doesn't shed a tear for him. Whenever I see her she says how much she misses him. It's so refreshing to hear of the happy, loving life that they lived together. Mom, Mrs.Novasack and I sat on her porch and looked out over the turf farm that her husband started. That turf farm is so much a part of my life. For years growing up the Hoffman girls and I would run through the sprinklers or just lay in the grass. Because of old farming laws, the turf farm can never be developed - so I take comfort that the area around my parents will always be open and pure. So we sat on the porch, looking out over the turf farm as the sun was setting, listening to Mrs.Novasack tell great stories about her life with Leo. When we left and started our walk home the moon was shining bright in the dusk sky, the air smelled like summer and trees and there were a million lightning bugs dancing around. Damn, this is why I love South Jersey.

Fireflies are also called Lightning Bugs. Named as they are nocturnal luminous insects of the beetle family Lampyridae. Fireflies are soft bodied beetles which sizes range from 5 to 25 millimetres in length. On the underside of the abdomen it have special light organs that glows in luminous flashes. The flattened, dark brown or black body is often marked with yellow or orange. Most of the fireflies feed on pollen and nector but for adult fireflies they do not eat.

Light production in fireflies is due to a chemical reaction that occurs in specialized light-emitting organs, usually on the lower abdomen. The enzyme luciferase acts on luciferin in this organ to stimulate light emission. Genes coding for these substances have been inserted into many different organisms (see Luciferase - Applications). Luciferase is also used in forensics, and the enzyme has medical uses.

For adult beetles, it is primarily used to locate other individuals of the same species for reproduction. Many species, especially in the genus Photinus, are distinguished by the unique courtship flash patterns emitted by flying males in search of females. Photinus females generally do not fly, but give a flash response to males of their own species.

Bioluminescence is a very efficient process. Some 90% of the energy a firefly uses to create light is actually converted into visible light. By comparison, an incandescent electric bulb can convert only 10 percent of total energy used into visible light, and the remainder is emitted as heat.


  1. Yes, summer nights are one thing I love about the east coast! Phil is from San Diego (so I've been to Encinitas many times and love it too! would love to move there) and much as I love SoCal, I will always look forward to those warm summer nights we get over here. You're right, there is something really magical about the fireflies, the warm air and the dark sky.

  2. Karen (Kuhns) LangleyJuly 6, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Cailin- My aunt and uncle used to live on Gracetown Rd. right in front of the turf farm. I remember running through the giant sprinklers with my cousins. Good times. Thanks for the memory...