Martino: Fawns and Fireflies

deer fawn
"Big Meadows Fawn" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carly & Art

No one can argue last winter just didn’t want to let go. But thankfully it’s now history. Even the beginning of spring was unseasonably cold. But our ensuing warm weather was welcoming and droves of people began to enjoy our outdoor activities.

Birdwatchers captured photos of many species returning to our area. Although the morel hunting season was less than banner due to dry weather, many turkey hunters saw success. But what lacked in some areas was made up for in others. This spring offered a crappie fishing bonanza with hordes of people filling their freezers with succulent fillets.

Last week while making my way down the banks of the Wildcat Creek for a short wade fishing trip something softly stirred in the thick brush. A small fawn ran up the bank. It was beautiful and even though not more than a few days old, it was surprising how well it moved on thin, spindly legs. To me, few things are as cute as a baby deer with its spotted coat and tiny head and ears.

As the calendar moves to June, the majority of does will have given birth. Most fawns are born within the same week. The gestation period for whitetailed deer is just over six months. Fawn births take place at relatively the same time because it is nature’s way of helping propagate their species. With so many fawns at once, predator populations become somewhat overloaded resulting in a smaller number being lost to predation.

Also, within the next several weeks we will enjoy another enjoyable outdoor experience, one that has been rooted in most of our childhood experiences – fireflies. These insects, what many of us call lightening bugs, have been an ongoing source of childhood fascination.

The soft greenish-yellow glow given off by these small insects is unique because it does not produce any heat. Instead, the flash is used to attract mates for breeding season. Different species use different patterns of flashes.

Interestingly enough, lightening bugs are predatory, eating other types of smaller insects. Some fireflies imitate the flashes of other species to prey upon them. Imagine the shock when one species of firefly shows up expecting to find a mate only to be pounced on by another type of lightening bug.

Some people want to attract fireflies to their property. To do this the best way is to leave as many natural areas as possible. These insects prefer wooded areas as opposed to large manicured lawns. Light is their enemy because if it’s not dark enough flashes cannot be seen by other lightening bugs.

With each season come different outdoor opportunities, some consumptive while others are more passively enjoyable. So with each day stop for just a minute or two and enjoy what is taking place around you.

 

John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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