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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Bit About Fireflies....


A Few Words About Our Favorite Subject

Fireflies, or as we call ‘em in Tennessee, "lightning bugs," are flying beetles that reside around grassy meadows. The insects have the unusual ability to flash or twinkle, producing a cold light and creating a magical sparkle that lights up the early evening at twilight.

Many people associate the insect with their childhood memories and the simple, innocent pleasures of that time. They may even remember chasing the tiny glowing bugs on warm summer evenings and collecting them in a jar with air holes punched in the top.

Fireflies are also luminescent in the larvae stage, and during this period of life, they are sometimes called "glowworms."

Now most anyone who ever observes a firefly as it twinkles in the darkness seems to wonder: "How do they make the light?" Fireflies are not completely understood and the light making process is complicated. Their luminous glow is believed to come from their abdominal air tubes where  a chemical called luciferin is activated in a chemical reaction with the substance luciferase. A cold light is created by this chemical process. 

The timing of the flash is believed to be due to the gas, nitric oxide, which controls delivery of oxygen to specialized light cells that use the oxygen to fuel chemical luminescence. Each species of firefly has its own rhythm. The flash is actually a "love call" that helps fireflies find each other for mating.

Fireflies are found all over the world. There are about 200 species of fireflies in the United States, but almost none are found in the western United States. Fireflies, unfortunately, have disappeared in many areas, even though they thrive in others. 

The mature firefly lives a short life of a few months and may not even survive long enough to need food. Some scientists think it is probable that the insects feed on nectar to sustain their energy. Larvae have been observed feeding on earthworms, snails and slugs. Some types of fireflies are "femmes fatales" who flash to attract males of other species only to devour them. 

There are no known biological suppliers or other sources from which fireflies can be purchased for repopulating an area. Most experts suggest avoiding pesticides, which kill desirable insects as well as the less desirable ones, and maintaining the natural habitat as the best way to attract them naturally to your property. Many types also seem to prefer being close a natural source of water.

Here in Tennessee, fireflies are plentiful and can be seen nearly every warm summer evening in June and July bringing their bit of brightness into the night. The simple and magical qualities of the insect have captured the imagination of both children and adults.  The tiny, wild insect symbolizes the flight and fancy of a free spirit. 

Copyright 2004 Sheila Moss

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