Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Plural form of firefly.

Etymologies

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Examples

Comments

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  • "It is dusk in the tropical rainforest of Papua, New Guinea. As the shrieking of parrots and parakeets fades and the tree kangaroos settle in for a long night, fireflies by the million are taking to the air and lighting it up like tiny flickering stars. For a while the fireflies' erratic flashing will animate the darkening air with a gentle, luminescent chaos. But as evening turns to night, the chaos will give way to one of nature's most bizarre displays. Fireflies, first in pairs, then in groups of three, ten, a hundred, and a thousand, will begin to pulse in near-perfect synchrony. By midnight, entire trees and clumps of trees will be flashing on and off with the crisp clarity of neon signs.

    'Imagine a tree thirty-five to forty feet high,' an eyewitness once wrote.'...apparently with a firefly on every leaf and all the fireflies flashing in perfect unison at the rate of about three times in two seconds, the tree being in complete darkness between flashes...Imagine a tenth of a mile of river front with an unbroken line of mangrove trees with fireflies on every leaf flashing in synchronism, the insects on the trees at the ends of the line acting in perfect unison with those between. Then if one's imagination is sufficiently vivid, he may form some conception of this amazing spectacle.'

    It is more than a spectacle. It is also a scientific enigma."

    --NEXUS: SMALL WORLDS and the Groundbreaking THEORY OF NETWORKS by Mark Buchanan, p. 48

    edit: there are only a handful of firefly species that can do this...

    September 13, 2008

  • Ditto--PA and lightning bugs. :-)

    July 22, 2008

  • I grew up (in Pennsylvania) calling them lightning bugs also. And I love that Twain quote too. :)

    July 14, 2008

  • "Fireflies" sounds more poetic to me. I wonder what the word for "fireflies" is in Bengali.

    July 14, 2008

  • I'm wondering if ol' Rabindranath gave that any thought?

    July 14, 2008

  • Where I'm from (Missouri), "fireflies" are called "lightning bugs".

    The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. --Mark Twain

    July 14, 2008

  • The fireflies, twinkling among the leaves,

    make the stars wonder.

    --Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies

    July 14, 2008