Fireflies are instects in the family Lampyridae in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically-produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale-red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers.
- Don't mistake vivacity for wit, thare iz about az much difference az thare iz between lightning and a lightning bug.
- Josh Billings, Josh Billings' Old Farmer's Allminax, "January 1871". Also in Everybody's Friend, or; Josh Billing's Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor (1874), p. 304.
- Cf.: The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.
- Mark Twain, letter of 15 October 1888 in George Bainton The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners (1890).
- To a child's eye a lightning-bug outshines the brightest fixed star. There is no little childishness in every generation of grown-up people. The Lightning-bug never sees a second summer, the star shines on forever.
- Oscar Penn Fitzgerald, Judge Longstreet: A Life-Sketch (1891), p. 13.
- Every Lightning-bug has his night, but he never has had his day.
- George Augustus Lofton, Character Sketches: or, The blackboard Mirror (1890), "The Lightning-bug Convention".
- And the fireflies, Wah-wah-taysee,
Waved their torches to mislead him.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha (1855).
- Now, motionless and dark, eluded search
Self-shrouded: and anon, starring the sky,
Rose like a shower of fire.
- Robert Southey, Madoc in Wales (1805), Part II (confounding the firefly with the lantern-fly).
- Many a night I saw the Pleiads rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.
- The lightning bug is brilliant
But he hasn't any mind
He blunders through existence
With his headlight on behind.
- Anonymous, widely circulated in American periodicals from the 1890s and early 1900s. The earliest known citation, in Fiber and Fabric, Vol 27, no. 683 (2 April 1898), p. 84, refers to an unidentified issue of Charles Austin Bates' Criticisms, which ran from 1897 to 1902.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations 
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 273.
- Before, beside us, and above
The firefly lights his lamp of love.
- Reginald Heber, Tour Through Ceylon.
- Is it where the flow'r of the orange blows,
And the fireflies dance thro' the myrtle boughs?
- Felicia Hemans, The Better Land.
- The fireflies o'er the meadow
In pulses come and go.
- James Russell Lowell, Midnight, Stanza 3.
- Tiny Salmoneus of the air
His mimic bolts the firefly threw.
- James Russell Lowell, The Lesson.