The Problematic Courtship of Fireflies

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The firefly, known in some regions by the adorable name of peeny wally, has a few things inherently wrong with its mating process.

Summer evenings in the east coast suburbs are rendered magical by flickering green lights as fireflies fill our yards. It uses a self-generated light to attract a mate. Which seems pretty impressive until you consider that both the firefly and its potential mate are miniscule participants in a game of Marco Polo…in the dark…in the sky.

If a human being were seeking a partner and was like, “Now you see me…now you can’t! Here I am! Nope, here I am!” it would make courting belabored and difficult. Of course, we have the benefit of arms and hands, and could at least reach out in the dark and feel around.

But this humble little guy is a tiny whirligig in the sky, amongst other tiny whirligigs in the sky. Light or no light, you’re still just trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Might I suggest a few adaptations?


Why don’t you just leave the light on? Until it’s time to turn the light off, if you know what I mean.


Land on something and blink on and off. At least you’re stationary.


Evolve to have orange wings and look for your mate in daylight. If you weren’t charcoal gray, you could find each other by your blindingly bright jackets.


Why are you all so spread out anyway? Why not just inhabit one single swingin’ bachelor pad of a tree? That way, you’d be guaranteed you couldn’t take a millimeter-long step without your little stick leg touching a potential mate.

So, there you have it, peeny wallies. I hope you’ll take my suggestions into consideration.

Because with these self-perpetuated hinderances decreasing your very chance of finding others like you, I don’t know how your species even survives.