Thursday, 7 February 2013

Dispatches from the Tropics: 7 February 2013

Remember the green tree frog who, after a series of unfortunate incidents with a) my foot and b) the fish tank, packed his bags and headed for a life on the road? Well, he's back. He spends his days in the laundry trough and his evenings sidling along the window sills and shelves, knocking things onto the floor. One day I will find a slightly damp piece of paper stuck to the wall with demands for payment. It was lovely to see him return, but I didn't expect him to start a protection racket.

— oOo —

There was a firefly in my room last night. I am fond of fireflies. At dusk, they gather in loose swarms along the rainforest edge. Unlike some species in SE Asia, these ones do not synchronise their displays. They neither spark in unison nor in sequence, so there are no Christmas lights or illuminated Mexican waves. But they do produce an excellent imitation of the Milky Way. On clear nights, you can stand both among and beneath a cloud of stars.

So I was delighted when, of all the arthropods that wander into the house — a list that includes, but is not limited to, click beetles, capsizing scarabs, giant cockroaches that nudge the furniture across the floor, steel-jawed longicorns, mosquitoes with drilling rigs attached to their heads, huntsman spiders the size of bread and butter plates and uncoordinated moths that fly into your face while you're trying to read bloody hell there's another one just go away — a firefly had turned up. They are the most innocuous of insect visitors.

The lone firefly sauntered across the ceiling, flinging together luciferin and luciferase to generate a small-scale biochemical light show in its backside. And it was splendid...until the blasted thing decided to jazz up its display. It flew around in tight circles with its light jammed on. After landing on the floor, it would zip back up to the ceiling, crawl around for a bit and then repeat the whole exhibition. And that light is really bright. LED bright.

The first time was spectacular. I had never seen fireflies display that way before and was surprised that the reactions could provide consistent light over several seconds. But by the seventh time, it was like being stuck in a room with Tinker Bell on a caffeine high. Yeah, yeah, miracle of nature and all that... I am totally over fireflies.

11 comments:

biobabbler said...

Hee. =)

Neil said...

Have not seen a firefly in a long time.

Snail said...

Biobabbler, the frog moved out of the laundry trough into the toilet bowl yesterday. Although this seems to be the preferred location for green tree frogs in Queensland, I decided to move it on from there!

Snail said...

Neil, I haven't seen many this year at all. It might be down to the late Wet. (Which still hasn't arrived. TC Oswald gave us false hope.) I hope it's just a seasonal thing and not indicative of a decline in fireflies.

Anonymous said...

Great to see you again ...

Now.
A Request.
Can you split these notes up, please, so we (well,_I_) can get a little "snail fix" more often

I miss you. I know you are busy, but I still miss you here.
:P!
jj

Sherryl Clark said...

Great to see all these photos. Loved the wrens. I always laugh when we go walking at Lancefield and the wrens in the bracken make such a fuss (as in: go away, you noisy humans). The blue ones are beautiful.

Snail said...

jj, will do!

Sherryl, I love blue wrens! And they are so darned difficult to photograph.

citybushie said...

I first saw fireflies in new guinea.
I was fascinated to see this bright, shining light flying about at night
Unfortunately we do not get them here in Melbourne.
All the best

Snail said...

They're astonishing little things. Have you seen the glow-worms at Melba Gully in the Otways? (Or is it at Maits Rest?)

citybushie said...

No I haven't seen visited Melba Gully,I have been past there a few times. Melba Gully apparently is one of the easiest places to see Glow Worms;no creeping into caves, just walking along a track.
Springbrook GLOW WORMS Research Centre-Queensland.Provides some great info. about these amazing creatures.

Snail said...

I've spent quite a bit of time in the Otways, but I've never been there after dark, so haven't seen the glow-worms either. I think there are organised walks, which might be an option for next time I'm down there.

That Springbrook site is excellent! I had those little solitary bioluminescent fungi on the rainforest block. Such bright light from something so small!