Fireflies In The Dominican Republic And Their Mysterious Meaning
In the Dominican Republic, fireflies are called “cocuyos”, since ancient times fireflies have been erroneously perceived as “heralds of the dead and ghosts”, perhaps because of the lights, they shine above their thoracic area, which stand out in the darkness.
According to Dominican popular culture, when they would appear somewhere at night and the more incandescent their light, supposedly the more recent the dead person was.
Particularly in towns in the eastern region of the country (La Romana, Punta Cana, San Pedro, etc.), they say that they are the dead who could not enter the “Kingdom of Heaven”, but they are not in “purgatory” and are left “in sorrow” hanging around.
Similarly, they relate to the smaller fireflies. “It is said that whoever kills one of these insects would be several years out of God’s grace.
Origin of the light of fireflies
Far from popular beliefs, these insects, of the order of Coleoptera, which have hard or protective wings, are abundant worldwide under the scientific name Pyrophorus.
Their illumination is due to the luciferin protein that they activate to attract females and mate during reproduction periods.
The generality of the species, family Elateridae, is characterized by being elongated, brownish, or black in color and with two yellowish-greenish spots on the sides of the thorax.
Although they emit a rather vivid bluish light at night, they are similar to the so-called nimitas.
The latter differs in that it has only one light and belongs to the Lampyrid family, which illuminate in the terminal part of the abdomen.
The larvae of the fireflies are very elongated, are called “wireworms”, live underground or in decaying wood, some for six years.
Fireflies endemic to the Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, the firefly Ignelater dominicanensis, endemic or exclusive to the country, predominates. However, some 14 genera and 37 species of these insects have been recorded, which prefer the slopes of hillsides and humid places in the tropical zone.
Their eggs are also luminescent.
They feed mainly on roots in crops, flowers, and leaves. The aborigines used to fill gourds with fireflies to provide illumination.