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Can we bring back lightning bugs?

Last weekend was an exciting one in many regions of the United States and other countries. Millions of people were fortunate enough to observe and record on their cameras and cell phones the intense color and ephemeral beauty of a highly unusual aurora borealis display. I wasn’t one of them, but I have enjoyed hundreds of photos from all over Virginia, including the Middle Peninsula.

What I hope to enjoy on summer nights is a light display of much smaller magnitude, but one of great ecological significance: the nightly lightning bug show, which will begin in just a few weeks.

Do you remember staying outside until dark on summer evenings and catching lightning bugs in an empty mayonnaise jar with holes punched in the lid? Did you take the jar inside and put it by your bed to watch the dainty lights flicker until you fell asleep? By morning, the lightning bugs likely were dead, but, no matter; there were always more to catch the next evening.

Not anymore. In recent years, light...

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