Commentary: Fireflies for the win


A firefly. Image: Wikimedia Commons

By Camryn Evans

A fun summer night isn’t complete without the twinkling of fireflies in the sky.

It’s always exciting when the first few fireflies start to appear. It means summer has officially arrived and good days are coming.

They are the mascots of joy filled summer nights filled with laughter and love.

Sitting outside as the campfire crackles on a breezy summer night in the backyard while the sun finally starts to set. Seeing fireflies start to take their place among the trees.

As you watch them gather on the trunks, their flickering lights up the space around them. When the sun finally sinks, they begin their dance in the sky.

They gracefully float through the air and shine on the darkness below.

Even on nights where clouds fill the sky and block the stars, they are always there to fill the empty sky with their flashing light.

I can’t remember a summer night in my childhood that wasn’t spent chasing them around in hopes of catching a few to stare at while they glowed. To be mesmerized by their lights as they flicker and shine while they crawl around inside a mason jar, only to release them to start the game all over again.

Fireflies have always fascinated me. How one singular firefly alone won’t survive but together in clusters they flourish.

Most people don’t know that they use their light to attract mates.

The light isn’t only for attracting mates, however.

It’s also to warn one another that a predator may be near. The light can be a warning to those predators that the fireflies aren’t going to be a tasty meal.

According to National Geographic, the light used to draw mates and defend against predators is caused by a chemical called luciferen. When the chemical mixes with air in a firefly’s abdomen, it causes a chemical reaction that emits a bright light.

This light is where they get that familiar name, fireflies.

I always thought it was so neat that they need one another to survive. The light that most of us think nothing about is absolutely necessary to their survival and ability to thrive.

I was introduced to this topic in a pregame speech before a big soccer game. Our coach spoke about how team members who are out only for themselves never shine bright on their own. How fireflies that remain alone hardly survive. It showed us that as a team you need the people around you to not only survive but to win.

There are so many scenarios that can use this comparison.

In any team sport, work environment, relationship or friendship, it’s hard to fully reach your potential on your own.

You need people to help along the way. Whether it’s for advice or to pick you up when you’re down, you need a support system.

When I see them in summer, now knowing this, it means so much more. They are now more impressive than just the glowing bugs I used to think of.

They are united and a team that protects one another. They work as a unit to find their mates and warn their counterparts about predators. The work to ensure each other’s wellbeing.

It’s incredible that things as small as fireflies can unite as a team and demonstrate how important connection is. To remind us how important a support system is to become the best version of oneself.

Even though summer has ended, I know that they’ll soon be back again to fill the sky with their bright light soon and remind me of the important things I sometimes forget.

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