My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Friday, August 22, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: The Difference Between the Lightning Bug & the Lightning

For the past month or more, our neighbor has been trying (unsuccessfully) to convince us that there's been a nightly cloud of lightning bugs blinking and flashing their luminous bellies above a street lamp north of our houses. Though we've looked for them (also unsuccessfully), we've remained skeptical for several reasons:

1) Lightning bugs (aka fireflies) prefer warm, humid climates and are native to areas east of the natural barrier of the Rockies. They're rarely seen in the more arid states west of Kansas - and those few species that can be found in the Rockies are not the flashing variety.
2) We haven't seen any in the 25 years we've lived in Wyoming (to our sorrow)
3) When we've lived in places with lightning bugs, we never saw them cluster around lights. In fact, along with development, researchers cite light pollution as a probable major factor in the worldwide decline in lightning bug populations, since it interrupts the flash patterns lightning bugs use to communicate and attract mates.
4) Every time our neighbor has tried to convince us, he's had a beer in his hand. ;-)

What we have seen are small moths flying around the streetlights, whose light reflects off their wings and makes them appear to be glowing. So we think those are probably what our neighbor is seeing and mistaking for lightning bugs.

But last Friday and Saturday evenings, we also saw this amazing cloud of lightning blinking and flashing above the street lamp north of our houses...




So maybe our neighbor meant to say lightning and not lightning bugs. :-)

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word 
is really a large matter -- 
it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
~ Mark Twain 

37 comments:

  1. Wow!!! I have never seen anything like that lightning!!! Incredible capture!!

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    1. Thank you! These were two of about fifty I took (thank goodness for digital!) - my timing was only perfect a handful of times. But that's all I needed! I love watching lightning "shows" outside the storm clouds, but my favorites are the ones like these, where the incredible light show takes place inside a "cloud theater!" :-)

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! It was a cloud formation illumination! :-)

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  3. That cloud and lightning is amazing!

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    1. It was fun to watch, we sat on the porch a long time on both evenings, enjoying the light show!

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  4. Looks like lightning bugs to me. Great capture, that's hard to do with lightning.

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    1. What does, the illuminated storm cloud? Have you been sneaking into Al's beer stash? :-) (And it IS hard to get lightning photos, I deleted at least a dozen pics for every one deemed worth keeping! Never could have done that pre-digital).

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  5. Oh my.
    Beer? Not for me.
    Magic like that? An emphatic yes.
    Thank you (and I would love to see fireflies too).

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    1. No fireflies where you are either? I really miss them. I remember them the most from being a kid in NJ - the summer nights were filled with them! Glad I could at least furnish you with the magical flashing storm cloud. :-)

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  6. I've tried for lightening photos, but am never fast enough. - Margy

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    1. I know, I usually miss them unless I just get lucky. I got lucky (and took a LOT of photos just to get a few keepers!)

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  7. Oh WOW, Interesting pics.... :)

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  8. Great lightning shots - I love it when lightning illuminates a cloud like that.

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    1. Me too. The individual bolts are dramatic to watch, but I think a big flashing storm cloud like this adds such beauty to the drama!

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  9. I would say that the beer is definitely an influence on him seeing the fireflies. lol That makes sense about the moths, though.

    Those clouds are wicked! It looks like there was an explosion. Very cool!

    We usually see fireflies behind our house, but this year they haven't been around as much. I love watching them!

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    1. Beer is definitely a key part of our theory. :-) The moths are larger than fireflies and fly like, well, moths! You know, all fluttery. So though it makes as much sense as anything, it's hard for me to imagine anyone confusing the two. Yup, gotta be the beer.

      It does look like an explosion! It was far enough away that we heard no thunder, and I think seeing it flash in silence just heightened the drama.

      I wonder if your not seeing as many fireflies this year has to do with your funky weather you've had this summer, or if it's part of the larger diminishing firefly population I mentioned. Hope it's the former.

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  10. Wow that in amazingly beautiful and awesome.

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    1. We thought so too! I was so pleasantly surprised I was able to capture it.

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  11. Wow, what a great post! Amazing photos and I love the tie in with the Mark Twain quote.

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for mentioning the Twain quote, when it popped into my head as I was writing about our neighbor's alleged lightning bug sightings, I was pretty tickled! :-)

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  12. Amazing photos! I'm sorry you don't have lightening bugs out your way....never thought about it! We have plenty with our warm, humid nights these days. xoxo

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    1. I'm glad to hear you have an abundance of lightning bugs - enjoy their dazzling company on our behalf! (You can keep your humidity, though - we've had an unusual amount of it ourselves and I just despise it!)

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  13. Stunning! This light is fantastic!

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  14. You really captures some terrific shots of the lightning. Interesting lesson on lightening bugs.

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    1. Thank you, Anita - I captured plenty of pitiful ones just to get a handful like these, but that's one of the beauties of digital. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed the lightning bug information. As nearly always happens, I learned new things writing this post. And that's one of the beauties of blogging. :-)

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  15. Beautiful shots, I don't see too many like that. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  16. Hi,Laloofah. Your photos are stunning beautiful. Ihave never seen these lighting clouds in the sky. I hope you will see the lightning bugs in your neighborhood. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Minoru! We get storms like this out here quite a bit - the huge thunderstorm clouds filled with lightning. Usually they're earlier in the summer, like June and July, though. They are a sight to see, especially at night! It would be nice to see lightning bugs again. They bring back fun memories of childhood summer nights!

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  17. Just had to stop back by and say thank you for your comment on my hot and cold post, it really gave me a good laugh!

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    1. This was sweet of you, Anita! Thanks! Always happy to amuse! :-)

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  18. Wow - I love the drama of these clouds!

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    1. Wish I could have gotten some action video, that would have been even more dramatic!

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  19. Wow, this is amazing! Such drama in the clouds, and great light!

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    1. Thank you! I agree, the whole lightning-from-within illumination of storm clouds is dramatic - and beautifully eerie.

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"