From Mark G. in Tokyo-
Summers were full of lightning bugs where I grew up in West Virginia. When the first ones came out at dusk, we’d catch them easily with our hands. But it got a lot harder to catch the ones that came out later after dark. So then my sister and I would take to whacking the fireflies out of the air with our Fun-go baseball bats.
Once our bats were good and gooey with lightning bugs, we’d swirl them around to trace glowing figures in the dark, until Mom finally called us in to bed.
Editor’s note: This apparently uniquely American pastime of bashing lightningbugs is confirmed here and here and here.
I love this story about Japanese fireflies (from a 2003 PureLandMountain blogpost) –
Tonight we chased a sliver of a moongrin across the big bridge over the Lake to take Kaya (2 1/2 years old now) to a famed hotaru (firefly) stream … down through the deep dark to the firefly kingdom along the stream in its place beneath the tall trees, where the even deeper darkness was lit like a microstarry night with nothing but wisping flights of limegreen, surprisingly bright flashes rising, swooping, curving, softly floating, flitting here and there going on and off, sparkles resting in their hundreds on the leaves or falling sudden to the ground, kids, mothers, fathers and grandfolks trying to coax the little green stars to their hands, everyone glowing with the mysterious green fire that reflected in the eyes, the faces lit with awe and Kaya too was wide-eyed watching light walk in her hand.
From a retired science teacher in St. Louis, Missouri:
When my mother was young, she slipped out one evening with her Mason jar to collect some fireflies. As she ran through the grass, she tripped and fell on a rock, and the jar shattered in her hands . A sharp glass shard sliced its way through her finger. Even though she eventually lost that finger, she never did lose the love she had for these silent sparks.
From Jay, a software engineer in Bangalore:
Recently I was startled to find a lonely firefly wandering around my Bangalore apartment. My children had never seen a firefly! But I grew up in a town called Payangadi in Kerala, South India. In the 1980’s electricity was scarce and most nights we had no power. In my memory there used to be trees so brilliantly lit up with fireflies, they looked like Christmas trees. Mostly these fireflies appeared just after the rains, when the leaves were still moist. I’d sit and watch them through the window for hours.
From Kevin, in Los Angeles:
Some 50 years ago in my childhood home (Mt. Prospect IL) some sort of research group offered a penny for every two fireflies us kids could collect. I’m sure we didn’t make a dent in the dense lightning bug population, but we tried. A candy bar was a nickel back then. It was the most lucrative romp imaginable.
Then 25 years later in Los Angeles, a good friend and native LAvian was reading a children’s book about fireflies to my kids. Afterward he said: “It’s a shame they are only a myth. It would be so magical!” It took some days and a visit to the library to convince him they were real after all. He was astonished.