I heard and saw this wonderful song long before it became the tune to a “Dr. Pepper” ad. No group EVER did this song better than the Mills Brothers. They were an extraordinary family of singers and musicians. They always looked like they were generally enjoying themselves when they sag. You can see a live performance of them singing on “The Nat King Cole Show,” on YouTube – but the sound quality is not as good, so I posted this one taken from an early Decca record. Enjoy!
Now: What exactly is a Glow Worm, and what is a Firefly? Are they the same thing, or is one the larvae of the other? Whatever your answer, and depending upon where you live, any choice I’ve given you is correct!
Glow Worm: Glow worms come in different forms and in some countries, (England among them), the name is used for what Americans call Fireflies. (From what I understand, they are not as bright in Britain as they are in the USA!) There are a number of different families and species of glow worms, all of which are referred to as Coleoptera and you can read about them a couple of them here, and here. In some of the families of both species, the male is the only one that flies, and the female remains a worm. In others they both fly, and in some they are both worms. There is a lot to learn about them in the Wikipedia article, I need not quote it completely here.
Fireflies: Now, I will quote from Wikipedia:
“Light production in fireflies is due to a type of chemical reaction called bioluminescence. This process occurs in specialised light-emitting organs, usually on a firefly’s lower abdomen. The enzyme luciferase acts on the luciferin, in the presence of magnesium ions, ATP, and oxygen to produce light. Genes coding for these substances have been inserted into many different organisms (see Luciferase – Applications). Firefly luciferase is used in forensics, and the enzyme has medical uses — in particular, for detecting the presence of ATP or magnesium. It has been speculated that Baroque painter Caravaggio may have prepared his canvases with a powder of dried fireflies to create a photosensitive surface on which he projected the image to be painted.
Light in adult beetles was originally thought to be used for similar warning purposes, but its primary purpose is now thought to be used in mate selection. Fireflies are a classic example of an organism that uses bioluminescence for sexual selection. They have a variety of ways to communicate with mates in courtships: steady glows, flashing, and the use of chemical signals unrelated to photic systems.
Some species, especially lightning bugs of the genera Photinus, Photuris, and Pyractomena, are distinguished by the unique courtship flash patterns emitted by flying males in search of females. In general, females of the Photinus genus do not fly, but do give a flash response to males of their own species.”
They are among my very favorite insects. As I child I used to collect them in jars for a while to watch them glow. (Don’t worry – I always let them go!) If you got enough in your jar, it was almost as good as carrying a lamp with you at night! There are a very few places in the world where the fireflies put on a show called “Firefly Synchronization.” You can witness that in Malaysia, if you live there or visit there, but folks in the USA don’t have to go nearly as far – especially if you live down here in the Smoky Mountains where I do. Just over the border into Tennessee from here is an area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is called “Cades Cove,” a gorgeous cove near Elkmont, Tennessee. Usually the first week in June, literally thousands of people line up to get a bus ride into the area where this fabulous light show appears. (The pollution of so many cars is prohibited. At other times of the year, car traffic is limited in the number of vehicles allowed in at one time.) There is another place where you can witness this phenomenon – in Congaree National Park in South Carolina.
Saturday last, I witnessed a beautiful show of fireflies in our back yard after returning from some errand. I stood and watched, mesmerized, not wanting to go inside, even for my camera, but I did tell myself that I would get my camera settings ready to do some timed photos, so you could enjoy the show, vicariously, with me!
Yippee! My dear Gentle Readers, I spent a loooooonnnnggg time studying up on night camera shots. I had my tripod set-up, mounted my camera and pointed in the general direction of where I spied most of the fireflies previously. They are all over the yard, and beautiful. The trick, unfortunately is to hope you time your shot just as they light up and not just after. Sometimes there were dozens of them lighting up almost at once, other times there were just one or two, or none. When I waited is when they usually lit up. Also, on the advice of some of the resources I read, I was told to turn off the noise reduction, because sometimes the camera will overcompensate for the lack of it and add more noise. So I did that, and I still got tons of “noise.”
Just to show you that I did try, I will show you a couple of the photos in which you can actually see a firefly or two. The photos are awful, but I learned TONS about night photography in the process, so it was not a waste of time! The fireflies will stay around most of the summer, so I’ll have lots more chances – so if I ever get any good ones, I put them up for you. Here are my photos, followed by a beautiful photo taken by a photographer at the Cades Cove, Elkmont location one summer. Believe me you would have had no trouble identifying which are mine, even if his had no watermark or ID/Credit!
I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday. Don’t laugh too much over my inept photos, but I will allow you a chuckle or two! I ‘m probably doing most of that for you!
I wish all of you, my Gentle Readers, the abundance of enough. . .