The rhythm of their lights still freshly impressing the mind, I thought
I’d discovered a late season firefly. But its sudden spring from sight left
a more telling impression: Disonycha glabrata, the pigweed flea beetle.

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Commonly named for eating Asclepias incarnata (not  pictured),

a Swamp milkweed leaf beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)

makes do in our patch of Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

 

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Just where we expected — the red milkweed beetle.                            (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

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daylight          reminder          of our date tonight

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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.

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