Fireflies have always been one of nature’s most beautiful and intriguing miracles. I could still spend hours and hours on a hot, dark summer night tracing the paths taken by the fireflies in my parents’ backyard. The fun, of course, comes from tracing the path between “blinks”, when the firefly fades to black and you are left guessing as to where they’ll appear next.
Perhaps this nostalgia explains why, when I saw the “ Firefly Watch ” site from the Museum of Science, Boston, I was both transported and transfixed.
Fireflies are at risk. Though the site makes identifying the specifics around the population decline an afterthought, it makes participating in the process enjoyable and interactive. It also makes the mission clear: trying to understand how a variety of social and ecological factors affect firefly populations.
As a fun, casual, family exercise, I consider this one with tremendous potential. It also makes a perfect segue into further exploration of environmental issues—whether one explores how their own lawn care habits affect broader populations, or one uses the firefly field trips as an introduction to other creatures in the local habitat.
PS – If you find yourself with more time to spare, I suggest scrolling through the vast library of songs with the word “firefly” or “fireflies” in the title, and supplementing that search with one on myths and legends associated with “fireflies.”
Image Courtesy WindRanch via Flickr under Creative Commons License.