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Nature's Flashlights at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region, July 11, 2014
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A montage from the night with the fireflies.
A montage from the night with the fireflies. - Photo Credit: Karen Blakely VanDyk

On Friday evening, July 11th, about 30 persons (mainly adults, but several children as well) gathered to sit around a campfire, toast marshmallows, and listen to a presentation on the nature of fireflies.
Resident volunteer, Michael Vaccari, a former Newark, NJ School Teacher, talked for several minutes about fireflies, their entomology (they are really beetles), their place in the environment (the larvae of the firefly is a voracious predator of slugs and snails), the problem of fireflies disappearing from settled areas (due to pesticides and light pollution), and what individuals can do to promote having fireflies return to their own back yards.

He also discussed reasons why scientist believe fireflies developed the ability to flash, citing mating and a warning to predators as the two most likely.
As they waited for dusk to settle and for the fireflies to make their entrance, Mr. Vaccari regaled the audience with campfire stories and jokes from his childhood experiences with the boy scouts.
 

Despite having a rare “super” full moon rise over the refuge, by 9:00 PM the fireflies were out, flashing among the meadow shrubs in all their bioluminescencent glory. Participants capered around the meadow, catching and studying the fireflies, then releasing them to continue their quest to find mates.
The evening’s activities ended with everyone walking out by the light of the full moon over the refuge. A good time was had, and everyone brought with them a new found knowledge of nature’s flashlight, the firefly.


Contact Info: Fran Stephenson, 973-702-7266 x 10, fran_stephenson@fws.gov



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