Philip: The Lightning Bug That Tried SO Hard to Get Captured

lightning bug in bottle

Philip in his private condo.

I found myself trapped in a car with nothing to do but talk about bugs. I initiated a nice conversation with my fellow riders, total strangers btw. About lightning bugs. More of an argument, I think. I had a strong opinion. My point was that they were the absolute best kind of bugs. Besides the fact that they can actually light up, they are slow (and therefore easy and fun to catch), friendly, and they have an interesting signature look. Even not-lit-up, they’re fun to look at.

At least this is the case with the kind that live by me, which have a sort of orange head-plate with a small black dot in the middle. It’s like the back of their head is a big orange eyeball always glancing at the sky above them. Or, you might say their bodies look like little tubes of lipstick and their orange head plate is the actual lipstick peeping out. Flying, glowing lipsticks—that’s lightning bugs.

Anyway, not two hours after I had engaged my captive audience in a random discussion about lightning bugs, I was sitting at home at my computer reading emails or watching cat video and suddenly I felt something small flick off my head. I caught it all in my peripheral vision: something had come in for a crash-landing, bounced off my head, and was then flailing around upside down on the desk. Turns out it was a freaking lightning bug.

I don’t live in a barn. Bugs don’t normally fall from the ceiling and bounce off my head. You’ll have to trust me when I say this little guy’s journey from the backyard all the way to my bedroom must have been a rather wild, confused time in his short life. And no, he hadn’t come in through the window, because I checked the whole bedroom and there were no open portals through which he could have come. He came to me via channels and valleys and mountains of the entire apartment building. Came through my door, past the foyer/living room, hung a hard left into my bedroom, and then suddenly ran out of gas and put her down right there on my desk. He was cool and collected when he did it, I bet.

This event was, interestingly enough, the first time I’ve ever known a lightning bug to find its way inside a house/apartment. It had always been a point of curiosity to me that, unlike spiders and earwigs and ants and this and that kind of home invader, lightning bugs never show up in your house unless captured and brought in for study. This guy must have been drunk on leaf-nector or plant mites and simply got himself way lost. It just so happened that I had an empty bottle of Poland Spring on my desk. You can guess what happened next.

Philip—as I’ve come to call him—found himself the proud new owner of a big tall condominium. All expenses paid. It’s got two microscopic air holes, and little mini-baths of water caught in the grooves at the bottom. As for food, apparently adult lightning bugs, which can lives for months and months, don’t eat very much. If I end up keeping him for a while, I’ll probably roll up a juicy-looking leaf and tap it down into the bottle. If for no other reason than to give Philip something to look at.

Don’t worry, I’m not a monster. I would have taken Philip outside and freed him right away, but he didn’t seem able to get his wings to work. Which is how he came to dive-bomb my head in the first place. Poor Philip seems to have had a major malfunction which promptly resulted in an end-of-mission (to borrow from NASA-speak). Fear not! I will give him another chance to fly later on today. If he can get himself airborne I’ll just say goodbye and watch him fly away toward the trees. Beforehand I’ll make sure nobody’s watching, in case I cry.

But if he can’t fly? Then I might just have to Cathy Bates him, a la Misery. Actually no, that reference is all wrong. Philip is a good friend of mine. I guess this is more like Mac and Me. Or, better yet, Batteries Not Included.

A lightning bug that can’t get airborne isn’t going to live very long, I’d wager. The food chain’s got all kinds of wild beasts out there that will swing by and gobble him up before he even realized he’d been evicted from his condo. Without flight, I’m going to say that Philip would have a longer life hanging out on my computer desk.

Aw. Looking down at him, we just shared a moment. Via random antennae wiggling he sent me a message. Philip seems to want to be set free. Either that or he’s looking for a date. He keeps staring at me with those little black dots set in the orange head-plate, wiggling his lightbulb butt at me. He could be a she. The name’s Philip either way, but there’s a 50 percent change he’s a girl. I know nothing of such things. I’m an equal opportunity captor, either way. All I know is that Philip’s a fine-looking bug. Not gross in any way. Lightning bugs rule, what else can I say? Long live Philip!

Come back tomorrow to see if I ended up setting Philip free. Gee, I must say, this story has really captured the hearts of Americans. It’s something special for sure. Don’t miss out!

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9 Responses to Philip: The Lightning Bug That Tried SO Hard to Get Captured

  1. ginjuh says:

    I just last month wrote a post about how ridiculously easy lightening bugs are to catch. Great minds… Enjoy your bug.

    • Bill Carson says:

      Thanks. Yeah, it really makes me feel like Bruce Lee—sneaking up on them from behind; whipping my hands out; opening my fingers, slowly, to reveal my catch. They’re great for the ego!

      I’m gonna read your lightning bug post post haste…

      • ginjuh says:

        Oh, I didn’t mean to twist your arm. That’s why I didn’t include a link. It’s just funny how they’re such remarkably

      • Bill Carson says:

        haha, no arm-twisting needed. I’m always curious to see how another writer handles/handled a subject I’d just written object. And you handled it quite nicely!

      • ginjuh says:

        (I think I posted an unfinished reply) anyway, they’re so interesting that we all still get a kick out of them, even as adults. And want to write about them. It’s just funny.

  2. Fireflies are so cool. Growing up in New York I would often catch them in my hand and look at them light up. There are no fireflies here in Cali. I was just lamenting over that the other day to another mom… How our children may never play with fireflies,

  3. List of X says:

    Did you ever think that the computer manufacturers plug those lightning bugs to serve as computer indicator lights, and Philip was the one who escaped? And that it’s less Misery than the Matrix?

    • Bill Carson says:

      You’re almost certainly right! Which means it’s time to email technical support. I must find a way to plug Philip back into my motherboard before he starts asking too many questions. Could have a revolution on my hands.

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