It’s first week of August and fireflies visited me again in the dark hours around midnight today. Although, I was getting reports of firefly sightings in and around Mussoorie, I didn’t witness them until one firefly entered my bedroom through the nearby Oak forest and flickered around. Last year on 4th of August, 2020, I saw fireflies for the first time in Landour, Mussoorie. This year similar incedence happened and I witnessed them two days early.
We are all familiar with Fireflies or commonly known as lightning bugs. To me these creatures resemble ‘Nature’s lantern’ which can light up even the darkest corners. But these mystical and charismatic insects are actually beetles and nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae. Most fireflies are winged and are distinct from other luminescent insects of the same family, commonly known as glowworms. Many species of this twinkling beetles are threatened and are listed in IUCN Red list.
Firefly behaviour reveals that each blinking pattern is an optical signal to find potential mates. Significantly, fireflies are indicators of a healthy environment. They are extremely sensitive to changing environmental conditions and thrive only in healthy habitats— where the water is free from toxic chemicals; where the land diverse enough to support different life stages of fireflies; and, where there is minimal light pollution. Fireflies—mainly feeding on pollen and nectar—also play a vital role in pollination and the propagation of many plants.
In India, fireflies are known as Jugnoo in Hindi, Jonaki Poka in Bengali and Jonaki Porua in Assamese. These nocturnal insects are winged, which distinguishes them from other luminescent insects of the same family. It’s a mystic experience to observe fireflies spreading light in the darkest of the woods. Few lines by my one of my favourite poets ‘ Robert Frost’ crossed my thoughts as I was delighted to witness this beautiful moment.
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