Fall is officially here and even though the thermometer has been raising to summertime levels, the days are certainly getting shorter. For me I have a love-hate relationship with this process. During the peak of the year when its only dark for about 6 hours, I certainly find myself trying to utilize the daylight to do to as much stuff as I can, though this comes with the side-effect of not sleeping enough. This time of year I have a little better balance, but occasionally find myself pushing the envelope and working in the dark instead.
This was the case the other night as I wanted to dig my potatoes up for the year before it rained again. As darkness enveloped me and I was making my best effort to finish when I suddenly noticed something that was shocking and new to even a seasoned veteran to the outdoors like myself. There was some sort of worm glowing in my garden soil, and certainly needed to be investigated. I carefully picked it up in the palm of my hand and started making my way to my garage, where there was better light. Then without warning, I felt a sharp pain in my hand like a bee sting and jerked, flinging the the creature into the air. After I had regrouped I looked in the grass to find the perpetrator. This time I was more careful and used bark and a stick to pick it up. After getting it in the light I realized it had armored scales on it’s back. The only thing that I knew that glowed was a firefly and maybe it was related to it.
After some quick research on the web it was confirmed that yes, it was a larva of the firefly. The larvae apparently live in the soil and ruthlessly hunt down worms, slugs and other bugs with a paralyzing agent, which it injects into its prey in order to render them immobile and an easy lunch. Who would think that those peaceful summertime bugs, romantically illuminating the night and children’s imaginations, embraced such violence and darkness? The good thing is that it didn’t paralyze me, but its strike was painful and long-lasting enough to make me think again before picking one of these up again with my bare hands.
On a brighter side if you haven’t been around the golf course to see all the migrating painted lady butteries, I encourage you to get there soon because as the temperatures cool down, they will be on the move again. Who would believe that some of these little butterflies have a massive migration, with research suggesting that they make a 9,000 mile round-trip to the Arctic Circle and back. This is about twice the distance that the Monarch butterfly goes. So get out and enjoy them and the start of our fall colors!