Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Firefly Approach

By Kerry Schafer

"Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it..." ~Cole Porter

"In most species of North American fireflies, during a certain time of night, males fly about flashing their species specific flash pattern. Females of the same species tend to be perched on vegetation, usually near the ground, and if a flashing male catches a female's fancy, she will respond at a fixed time delay after the last male's flash. A short flash dialogue may ensue between the male and female as the male locates her position and descends to mate (McDermott 1958)"

There's been some speculation this week about why guys do what they do. Does the male of the species really believe that if he wolf whistles out the window of his pickup truck at a female on the street, it will result in a mating? That "hubba hubba baby" or "what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" will end with said girl in his bed?

I'd venture to suggest that these guys aren't thinking anything - with their BIG brain, at least. On an instinctual, animal level, they are giving off mating signals, much like the firefly zipping around in the darkness, randomly flashing his light in hopes that some appropriate female will respond.

The more successful males of the human species, those who have the highest probability of actually taking a female back to bed for the desired sexual union, have evolved. They've learned to select an individual target, study her, and adapt their mating signals to hers. They've developed charm and finesse, so much so that the recipient of their advances doesn't realize she's been "hit on" and believes instead that she has been romanced.

Even the wolf whistle guys get lucky sometimes.

A friend told me about this guy he knew, a roadie with a rock band. Easy for all of the band members to get laid, not so much for him. And yet, every night after a concert, he would begin approaching women, starting with the hottest one he could find. He would walk up to her and ask, "Hey, do you wanna fuck?" You'd expect a no to this, which was often the case. But the guy would persist, working the crowd, and I'm told that inevitably he ended up taking somebody back to his bed.

Persistent fireflies win out too, I guess, even if they're not evolved.


  1. Excellent summation of lessons learned from this week!

    However - I've totally heard that story before, only the person telling me said it was about a guy HE knew. I suspect urban myth at work here.

  2. Being the lech I am, you've convinced me to spend the day ogling asses; however, if one lights up, I'm most likely to hand him some Bean-No.

  3. I love the story about the fireflies. Nature is a strange place.

  4. I adore fireflies! I wonder how many I forced into abstinence with my mason jar as a kid?

  5. Jeffe - could be. My source is pretty reliable but tales do get expanded in the telling. Or maybe that roadie really got around, lol.

    KAK - I'm picturing you now, stalking the streets in your highest heels, ogling and handing out Bean-No left and right.

    Laura - isn't it? I didn't include the bit about the females who imitate the flash of a male they want to eat, not mate with -

    D.F. Krieger - LOL. Or maybe they just got it on in the jar. You never know. I love fireflies too - I've spent most of my life where there are none. The few summer nights I've spent watching them were magical.