I spotted the first lightning bug in the garden today and couldn't help smiling. To me nothing says summer in Chicago like catching the first lightning bug- which is really a soft bodied beetle and not a fly. Like just about everyone else, as a kid I caught these bugs and kept them in jars.
But there was one particularly bad seed on my block, as a child, who took great pleasure in mashing them into the sidewalk to leave a glowing streak. Sometimes this kid would tear off the lower abdomen and stick it on his ear like an earring.
Aside from being temporary toys for children these beetles are good to have in the garden. They can be found in dark and moist areas in the garden where the larvae prey on terrestrial snails, slugs and unfortunately earthworms.