Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cotinus Photuris Photinus

Cotinus or Smoke Bush have one thing in common with fire flies, that I know of. Both have a thing with light. When Cotinus catches the early morning sun, especially after an evening rain, she wears a luminous misty rose dress. Lots of pale pink fluff in the garden right now. Like cotton candy clouds that even in the moonlight have a lovely form. It is a rare treat to see a firefly flicker from within the mist.

Among our fireflies friends there are many species. Years ago while doing research for a book, I learned about the behavior of two. Photinus and Photuris rhyme with Cotinus but a nursery rhyme it is not... more than just courtship or play is going on out in the garden at night. I had a few of my facts off a bit from my research, but it has all been updated and you can read all the magical and gory details from the nytimes here. The evening landscape is transformed by the scintillating flashes of fireflies, literally thousands sending out pulsating signals dotted along the ground, in the shrubs, trees and air. A fairy tale reality including its dark shadows. I do find it amusing that the little critters find one another through their particular signals, and that the female does the selecting... she seems to be impressed with rapid blinks... so the flashier ones are picked more often. Photuris is a particular 'Darth Veda' type, as it does "aerial assaults" (similar to the tree swallows in my last post sans extreme violence) upon those preferred flashy ones and there is not a pleasant ending for the Photinus. You will have to read the article by Dr. Lewis to learn more. Do try to make time it is very intriguing.
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