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Firefly Symbolism

We can be lucky enough to watch stars twinkling at night from very close, if we bump into the little flashy creature, fireflies. Their appearance can give you several imaginations while you get positive vibe from them.

This positive feeling has made many people come up with different symbolisms. When you will get to learn about them, you will realize how their presence left a deep mark in people’s thoughts. So, why not take a look at all the emblems of firefly for refreshment?



In natural setting, the fireflies use light for mating rituals. Scientists say that such ceremony is extremely detailed just like Morse code. The fireflies flash light specifically to get the attention of the right mate. And they must use the light precisely with exact and deliberate plant to be successful. That’s why it is stated to be a symbol of prudence. The prudent nature makes you realize how carefully you should choose your circles and how wisely you should lead life.


Firefly does not use heat to ignite their lights, meaning that you don’t have to burn yourself out in the quest of your goals. It does not spend any extra energy as it works with self-efficacy. It tells you to realize your ability to meet challenges that will ultimately help you reach your goal. The process should be free-flowing and natural unlike workaholics who never stop and breathe. Fireflies also teach you to monitor your energy and use it properly.

Zero Waste:

Adult firefly uses its environment to the most efficient extent possible so it can attain its energy. It gives you a lesson about using the resources available to you properly, and not wasting or consuming excessively.

Hope and Optimism:

The light of firefly represents hope. It leads its life through lighting the ambient telling you to be optimistic in life. The simplicity of fireflies can make you deal with complicated stuffs easily. This means, if you are optimistic and ignite the light of hope, nothing can hold you back and trouble you. So, take care of the small things and let the big stuffs take care of themselves.

Guidance and Self-Illumination:

When fireflies step into your lives, they have you guided to ways of living that are more soul and earth-friendly. It teaches you the value of leading your life simply. It also teaches you to rely on your own inner voices for illumination. It can make you realize your worth since it comes with a message of creativity. Its self-illumination can show you how you can achieve anything once you illuminate the light of your talent.

In Japanese Culture:

In Japan, the fireflies are basically called “hotaru.” and they are much loved and used as a metaphor for intense love in poetry since the eighth century anthology, Man’you-shu. The uncanny lights of the fireflies are also regarded as an altered form of the soldiers’ soul died in war. Such metaphor is used throughout the popular Japanese animated film, Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Firelies)” that was made in 1988. It wasn’t only regarded as a symbolism of the soldiers who died in World War II but also of the innocent people who died due to the war’s consequences like starvation.

As for the film, it is based on an autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. The story revolves around the struggle of two orphans at the end of WW-II, during American firebombing. Viewing the glow of fireflies at hot summers nights ‘hotaru-gari’ is very popular in Japanese culture. However, as hotaru dwell in clean streams only, their population has been declining in recent years as a result of pollution.

You will also find it popular in different Japanese songs and Hotaru no Hikari which is stated as The Light of the Firefly, is considered to be one of them. It’s often sang when people bid farewell to one another like the closing ceremony of events, at the end of the year or at graduation ceremonies. The tune, albeit, originates from the Scottish folk song “Auld Lang Syne,” and it does not mention anything about fireflies at all. It’s just that the rhythmical Japanese words somehow go along with the song’s melody.

There’s also a kids’ song named Hotaru Koi (Come Firefly), that also revolves story around this small creature. You will also find a new term, “hotaru-zoku which means firefly tribe that refers to mainly husband who is forced to smoke outside.

Things to know:

  • They are not flies actually they belong to the beetles group. If you look at the firefly closely, you will notice that it is actually a beetle having hardened forewings that is also called elytra. They use the elytra so they can balance while in flight.
  • Glow of fireflies is a chemical reaction that makes them bioluminescent. As per LiveScience, the illumination is produced when oxygen gets mixed with an enzyme named luciferase, a pigment named luciferin, and a chemical named adenosine triphosphate that provides cells with energy.
  • After the production of the formula, uric acid crystals, situated in the cells, make the light and shine it away from the photic organ part of firefly’s body.
  • Fireflies are stated to be assassin of vertebrates. When predators attack, they start a process named reflex bleeding. They shed blood drops containing chemicals that are poisonous to vertebrates, including birds and lizards. They are also not great for humans. At the American Museum of Natural History, the lips of scientist Marc Branham went numb after he gently put a firefly in a net between his lips while his hands were occupied with a jar.
  • European female firefly remains nonflying into adulthood. It adopts the form of a worm and glows instead of flashes. Speaking more of females, they also can be cannibalistic. The femme fatales of the Photuris genus use aggressive mimicry and awaits a male firefly to flash. Imitating the flash pattern of receptive mate, she lures the male in and chows him down.


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