These are ten good-to-know things before you make that trip to Purushwadi, Maharashtra where valleys twinkle with the little flashers aka lightning bugs aka fireflies… and some of them are things I didn’t know before I went there.. hope they are helpful!
1. There are more than 2000 species and each has a unique flashing pattern
2. They are alive for only 2 months of the year in India… May and Junre. they hatch from their eggs, become the cool flickering bulbs, attract a mate, lay eggs and then die. the eggs then hatch the next may! nature knows when the little larvae need to step out and see the daylight… how cool is that?
3. It’s a mating thing. yeah, it is… just like the peacocks showing off their beautiful plume. one likes to think it’s for the rains, naaahh, it’s for the very ordinary peahen! same thing here. the male fireflies blink their bums silly to attract the female firefly. guess the male with the bigger light is the winner here!
4. What do you think they are? flies? bugs? roaches? they are beetles! I think in my head it adds another dimension to them…
5. The males can fly higher than the females. the females stay perched on leaves and rocks. if a male passes by and they like the flashing, then they flash back. the male stops, their antennae touch (that’s how they smell each other), they mate and the female lays the eggs. simple right?
6. Best time for fireflies is the first two weeks of June. even that depends on the amount of rain. they need a couple of showers to start flitting around and flirting with all the females. if it starts raining very heavily, they can’t take the weight of the drops and you might find them by the roadside, dying… that’s the end of the season.
7. If you flash a torch on a tree full of fireflies, they go mad. they must think a biiiiiig firefly has arrived to steal their ladies…
8. The light is not warm. and is emitted by a complex process called bioluminescence…
9. You can let them walk on your hand, it doesn’t hurt, pain, tingle. you might just feel a little squeamish given that they look very similar to roaches from a non-scientific eye.
10. Lastly, you have to walk in the dark, through village roads and fields just after a shower, so expect mud, lots of squish-squash, and ‘euuus’ and footwear getting stuck in the mud! take good, sturdy footwear. we saw quite a few ‘delicate’ pairs of footwear break… women — man up! come on. wear those shoes I know you have, fireflies aren’t attracted to fancy heels unless they emit a glow!