Three summer bugs

Around this time of year, for the past several summers, I have had a growing sense of concern. This concern is not just anxiety in another form; it has a very real worry at its core. By the beginning of June, I expect to see the lightning bugs (fireflies) flashing around the yard and garden in the evening. I expect to hear the cicadas singing from the treetops. I expect the dragonflies to visit the yard and dance their summer dance.

When June has started and none of these insects has made an entrance, I begin to think ugly thoughts about my neighbors. I think, “You’ve finally done it with your sanitized lawns and pesticides. You’ve killed off the insects of summer for the sake of your green grass and your gaudy flowerbeds. I bet you’re not even sorry to have them gone.”

Every year, my ugly thoughts are premature. In just a few more nights, the lightning bugs will be flashing their lights on and off every evening for the next few weeks. In just a few more mornings, the song of the cicadas will be heard again. In just a few more days, the dragonflies will dance again.

I am not the most ardent tree-hugger that I know. I believe that chemicals have a place in agriculture and industry, and properly used they make my life better. I do not want to force the entire neighborhood to return to nature. On the other hand, I have read Silent Spring. I am aware of how much harm people can do when they overdo things. And my neighbors are not the kind of people to show restraint. They overmow and overtrim; they drench their lawns with their sprinklers every morning. The fear that they have finally killed off the lightning bugs, the cicadas, and the dragonflies is not entirely beyond reason.

If they have no tolerance for clover and for native daisies, I doubt they care about lightning bugs, cicadas, and dragonflies, or even about butterflies and honeybees. For this reason, I care all the more. What comfort it is to see the lightning bugs and dragonflies again each summer and to hear the cicadas. These sights and sounds assure me that nature has not yet been defeated and that there still is hope for the planet.

Have a great summer!

J.

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