The Italian Almanac

fireflies

Italian News - August 8

Many Italians can't remember when fireflies brightened summer nights, but scientists say the luminous insects are making a comeback this season. "We must thank biologically-friendly agriculture, which has exploded recently," said professor Francesco Petretti of the University of Camerino, who studied the phenomenon. "Farmers are using fewer pesticides."

Explosion is the right word for it: Italy is the top producer in Europe of organic food with some 54,000 companies cultivating the most extensive amount of organically-cultivated land at 2,965,620 acres. Organic produce, called 'bio' in Italian, makes up 2.4% of the national diet.

Scientists consider fireflies a sign of a healthy ecosystem. The insects, whose yellow glow is a product of protein intake and used as a mating call, live in unpolluted grass, bushes and hedges. The first fireflies were spotted in coastal regions in May, by scientists predict they'll light up the rest of the Bel Paese countryside for most of the summer.