I’ve been fascinated by fireflies since I first saw them near Houston, Texas when I was 7 years old. My aunt Joan took me out to her backyard acreage for a treat, not telling me in advance what I was going to see. That was ::cough!:: 40 years ago, so I may not remember details exactly, but I vaguely remember sitting on a 3-person canopy swing with my mom and Aunt Joan at dusk, and being fascinated by the little light show that was starting to twinkle and blink. I don’t think there were many, which isn’t surprising since fireflies mostly reside in the eastern states, but there were enough to start a lifelong love. I was enamored!
I’m worried, as I keep reading that firefly populations are dwindling, and may one day be nonexistent. It hurts my heart. I’m a native Californian, and although we supposedly have a smattering of fireflies somewhere in this state (don’t ask me where, as I’ve never seen one here), I’ve longed for years to live in a place where they’re common. I’ve heard we have glow worms – which, again, I haven’t seen, but they don’t really count because they don’t illuminate fields like runaway Christmas lights.
Some theories as to why fireflies are disappearing are development, light pollution, and pesticides. Development replaces firefly habitats with homes and businesses, obviously. Light pollution prevents mating by dulling the signals male and female fireflies use to find one another (the loneliness!). Pesticides just plain kill them (thanks, Monsanto).
This website can tell you more about the disappearing firefly, and how you can help populations in your area (unless you’re in California, eh?) recover: Firefly: Enigmatic, Enchanting, Endangered
If you have leaf litter in your yard, keep it rather than dumping it. Set aside a space in your yard for it, or start a compost pile. Same with rotting logs, where some species of larvae develop.
Turn off the outdoor lights so the little sweeties can locate each other and get it on.
Avoid chemical pesticides. They’ll eventually kill you, too.
Protect wet areas like streams, ponds and lakes from chemicals, and consider adding water features to your property. If mosquitoes are a problem, look for firefly-safe methods of controlling them, like mosquito larvaecides.
Avoid firefly bits and pieces by not over-mowing your lawn. Give them time to develop and mature between mowings. Also, consider plantings of long grasses, a preferred habitat.
And, please, spread the word. If there’s anything worth getting activist about, it’s these sparkly little beauties! Talk to your neighbors, talk to your city council, make informative fliers, or even host an information-packed firefly party at which everyone requires a light-up hiney (hey, just an idea)!
All that said, my family is considering a move away from firefly-free California (for many reasons) to an area where they still somewhat abound… perhaps central Indiana. And while we may try catching them in jars just for the experience, we will indubitably set them free in hopes they’ll go make more!
And here I’ll leave you with a magical video…
A few days ago my family and I went to RISE of the Jack-O-Lanterns at Santa Anita Park. What we expected wasn’t what we got. We expected more ambiance, mood lighting, something moody and spooky. What we got were dozens (they advertise thousands) of intricately sculpted pumpkins (which were indescribably genius), thousands of jack-o-lanterns that appeared to have been chopped into by 8-year olds (wondering if these were donated by schools?), and some incredibly bad lighting. At $26 per adult admission and $22 for kids under twelve, this was disappointing. The flood lights they used to light the parking lot should have been directed away from the pumpkin displays, not toward them. This caused a need to shield one’s eyes when looking at the displays, squinting to see the details, unable to enjoy that soft, orange glow that makes a pumpkin a jack-o-lantern.
I’d like to see RISE again, but elsewhere. I have to assume that the east coast shows are more ambient and not industrially lit (fingers crossed).
While there we met Joseph Yakovetic (who I JUST NOW found out is a Disney artist) who pumpkin-sculpted for Team Spell Binders on Food Network’s 2015 Halloween Wars. He was the highlight of the show and was a pleasure to speak with and learn from. He demonstrated his carving techniques and spoke of the properties of carved pumpkin flesh: how once carved it tries to “heal” itself with a protective layer of hardened sap-like substance, preserving itself as best it can.
This is Joseph, and that evening’s project…
That inspiring man gave me a bug, an itch to learn some carving techniques myself… and I bought some giant pumpkins right then and there! RISE had GREAT prices… $5 for one pumpkin, or $12 for three, no matter the size. We walked out with three. And by “walked”, I mean “huffed and grunted while laboriously dragging three 30-40 lb pumpkins to the car”.
I wanted to make these…
Spooky Style was created because I Adore Autumn. A native of California, I don’t get to see the seasonal changes they’re gifted with on the east coast, the colors and weather I long for. I’m freakin’ jealous.
It also exists because I Love Halloween. My friends share Halloween stuff on my Facebook year-round because they know. I’ve had a pile of bones (faux, promise) sitting in a basket in my dining room for almost a year, trying to decide what to do with them. A lamp?
I should mention I’m crafty. I like to make stuff. In various ways. You’ll see.
And, hey… I cook. This could get interesting.