Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Firefly nights

Fairy lights 

The yearly firefly show is upon us again. After dark, dozens of tiny creatures with lights in their bellies zig-zag over the grass and near the rivers searching for mates.
They are all the more charming for the nature of their flight: as they flash on and off and fly about, their flight-paths appear syncopated and random.

Locals tell me that their numbers have decreased dramatically over the years, that previously they flew in their thousands in any one place at a time. That may be true, and this year there are fewer than usual (the strange weather?),  but we feel lucky that they are still with us.
All the information you could possibly need about fireflies is to be found on this useful page 
Suffice it for me to say that fireflies are not in fact flies but beetles and their abdomens emit a chemically-produced bioluminiscence to attract mates and prey. They seem to thrive in damp conditions, ie; in dew-wet fields and around the river. Glow worms are the larvae of fireflies or firebeetles as perhaps they should be called.

Yet it is a shame to reduce our yearly ballet of fairy lights to a scientific explanation. 
You really just need to go out after dark 
to quietly enjoy the show.

Have a look at this short film which manages to render the idea fairly well and has the added bonus of a nightingale singing as its soundtrack.

During my search for information on fireflies I came across this little song called  Fireflies which although annoyingly electronic, is nonetheless quite catchy and pretty. The opening bars create an acoustic image of the fireflies' 
flickering, erratic flight

 While fireflies are impossibly difficult to capture in a photograph, at least with the technology available at Le Ripe, I have availed myself of some images from the internet which closely resemble the scene we enjoy each year around Le Ripe. 

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