As we approach the end of summer, how many fireflies have you seen? I haven’t noticed a single one. Where are they? When did they no longer become a regular summer attraction with their blinking and flashing and dancing around our yards?

As kids, we called ’em lightning bugs, and they were everywhere. When the evening arrived, so did they.

They were as much a part of those summer months as were lazy vacations and sunburned toes.

I think the last one I saw was in Maggie Valley about four years ago. Have they left the coast and moved to the mountains?

Gone in a flash

Technically, our scientific community says a firefly is a winged beetle.

Researchers are still unsure why we used to see ’em and now we don’t. The biggest finger seems to point in the direction of development and light pollution.

Humans have encroached more and more on places fireflies prefer to live.

Toxic chemicals might also be a contributor. In our ongoing effort to eradicate pesky mosquitoes from our swamps, marshes and backyards ... maybe lightning bugs have been unintented victims?

Summers don’t seem the same without lightning bugs. They were our fluorescent friends that came out each evening for our viewing pleasure.

Sometimes, trying to catch a few in a mayonnaise jar was just the perfect activity before eating a nutty-buddy and getting tucked-into bed. (While we’re humming “Kum Ba Yah,” anybody else ever bite the bottom of the nutty-buddy and suck the final few ounces of ice cream?) Sorry for the detour .. .let’s get back to our fireflies.

If the bugs have packed their bags and headed for the hills, could it be that since this area has become so popular, we’re no longer lightning-bug friendly?

Maybe they’re still hanging around Jeremy Creek in McClellanville? There’s a chance the monks might still see a few at Mepkin Abbey.

And since 70,000 lady bugs were recently released at Magnolia Gardens, surely some flashes of light had to be seen along the banks of the Ashley River.

Bring ’em back

Lawn and garden stores are full of items that help us add beauty to our yards.

Many homeowners cut and prune and weed for hours to manicure the outside of the house so that it looks just as well-kept as the inside.

As it turns out, lightning bugs don’t really care for that.

They prefer long grass, standing water and rotten logs.

They’re also more apt to appear if outside lights are turned-off.

Personally, I think they started leaving for other reasons some years ago, and we’re just now noticing.

We’re told male and female lightning bugs flash each other in order to communicate. Some actually synchronize the blinking. If they don’t talk to each other, it’s fair to assume they don’t rendezvous.

Maybe all this time they were trying to tell us something.

Maybe there’s still a message about not appreciating something until it’s gone.

It probably speaks more to when summers were simpler. When the front door had a screen on it and kids played outside after dark.

When parents spent evenings on porches talking to their children and less time buying something to occupy their time.

Kind ’a wish the lightning bugs would come back. It might help all of us to see things in a different light.

Reach Warren Peper at 937-5577 or wpeper@post andcourier.com