Leaving the rose garden by the house, today, bent upon our knees
and close enough to kiss the ground of Little Crum Creek,

we might just listen to the stridulation of abdomen and wings
beneath the armor of a passing “Betsy” beetle–Horned passalus, Odontotaenius disjunctus–

with the urgency of, otherwise faint and muted, unsettling screams…






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Sown here last year for the monarch and her brood
milkweed has grown to host a new visitor —
like this banded net-winged beetle
(calopteron discrepans, I think) —
on nearly every leaf turned




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Weeks before attracting larger palates with ripening fruit,
blackberry brambles invite the pollinating flights of more modest appetites.

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Analeptura lineola, one of the long-horned beetles known as “flower longhorns,”
busily feeds at a blackberry flower.



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The male reddish-brown stag beetle, Lucanus capreolus,
wields formidable mandibles to battle over breeding females
and sharp enough armor to impress any passerby.


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Little Crum Creek  . . .  Fireworks nightly,
Fireworks for hours.*



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Much unmentioned life along Little Crum Creek moves unseen in the cloak of night.

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That partly explains the appeal of fireflies, whose silent lights beside the water draw me raptly to the dark yard through June and July.

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This year’s first lights appeared at the end of May as single, unheralded flickers that would reach their numbered peak a month later.

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Now, near the end of July,  yellow-green lights barely dot the air above the creekside.

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But the season’s variety of flashing patterns and colors here has suggested the presence of several different species of lightning bugs along the banks.

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Many emit a single light every 3-4 seconds, tracing a yellow “J”  low to the ground or dotting the trees high above.

Some flash 3 times, others 12, as they cross the night.

Some light twice per second in the rhythm of a heartbeat.

Others emit a startling, 5-pulse pattern like a strobe.

And a few sail elegantly through space on single horizontal trails of greenish light.

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Pinpointing the different species, though, can be tough. And Firefly Watch, out of Boston’s Museum of Science, provides some useful resources to help people try.

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For now, I’m just impressed with the simple fact of bioluminescence and the quiet attention it inspires.

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So, here, I simply open the camera to share what the fireflies themselves are writing in the night.

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Inspired by blogs like Nature Posts  and Hawthorne Valley, each of these pictures captures an 8-15 second period of time during which most bugs will flash multiple times while passing through a single frame.

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By the photos alone, we might trace the flashing patterns of several individuals.

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So I leave you with these primitive shots (whose lights look better when clicked to enlarge), that I too might be quiet again, and return my attention to those silent emblems of all that’s left unseen & unsaid along the creek.


The “multi-colored Asian lady beetle” loves to eat aphids & other insects.

It is perfectly natural, then, to see several scuttling larvae on the compost pile.

But, like much of the flora here on Little Crum Creek, Harmonia axyridis is a recent arrival.

After several years of attempts, the beetle was successfully introduced to the United States as a pest control in the 1980s. 

Overwintering populations in Pennsylvania were first observed in 1993.

Now, each spring & summer (and maybe even fall), we host several generations of lady bug.






split skin



I.discovered this larva attached to a tarp on June 2nd and decided to shelter it for safekeeping. 

By June 5th, it had reached the pupal stage.

Four days later, I noticed the split skin and spotted our recently emerged beetle walking across a table top.

Its coloring was still pale, and perhaps the shell hadn’t fully hardened, but I was anxious to return the adult ladybug to its chosen environment.


Back out at the bug-rich compost pile, where its mother had likely laid her eggs and our larva had attached itself to the tarp just days before, we shared a bit of face time before parting.