Fireflies are horny and harmless.
Fireflies are horny and harmless. (Photo: Royal Brevvaxling)

Flash on, flash off: 5 fun firefly facts

Not all Milwaukee neighborhoods have fireflies, but those that do are pretty lit up right now with flying, blinking "bugs" looking for love. (More on that later.)

Personally, I’ve lived in a few Milwaukee neighborhoods / suburbs – Shorewood, Riverwest and Rufus King – but it wasn’t until I moved to Walker’s Point almost a decade ago that I saw so many fireflies, also known as "lightning bugs." I also have magical memories of these pyrotechnic bugs from when I was a child and visiting my grandparents in Illinois.

A quick search on Google provided a font of fascinating info about these pyrotechnic lil' guys and inspired me to track down a local entomologist to find out more.

Thelma Heidel-Baker is the scientist in residence at Riveredge Nature Center and holds a Ph.D. in entomology. She says the places with the most fireflies have the most firefly-friendly habitats, which include waterways / moist areas, vegetation, tress and the the right creatures – mainly slugs – for them to feed on.

In Wisconsin, according to Heidel-Baker, there are three kinds of fireflies: daytime fireflies (they do not glow or flash), night fireflies that do flash and glowworms, non-flying female fireflies that live on the soil, and they live here all year ‘round but are in larvae form for 1-2 years and only emerge as full-on fireflies in the summer.

Heidel-Baker also contributed to the list of five fun facts about fireflies, so if you wanna geek out for a minute, here we go:

  • Fireflies do not sting, bite nor carry disease.
  • They blink as part of their mating ritual and to attract mates. The males usually flash first and then wait for the females to flash back.
  • The lights also ward off predators because the chemicals that create the bioluminescence are unappealing and / or harmful.
  • Fireflies are a type of beetle with more than 2,000 different species.
  • There is not a confirmed firefly season in Wisconsin, but they appear sometime in June and are gone usually by mid- to …
Mmmm...brisket. Gonna need all the napkins.
Mmmm...brisket. Gonna need all the napkins.

Iron Grate BBQ food truck parks in Walker's Point


Iron Grate BBQ Co. will park its food truck at 1010 S. 1st St. in Walker's Point starting Wednesday, July 8.

Hours of operation during the first week will be Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The food truck menu, which is available online, features a "hot dip sammie," pulled pork, brisket, full rack of ribs, sides and more.

Iron Grate BBQ, 4215 S. Howell Ave., started serving its food at Hawthorne Coffee in 2016 and moved to its current location in 2017.  


Grilling tips from Fritz, right here.
Grilling tips from Fritz, right here.

Usinger's president shares sausage grilling secrets

The following interview was originally posted in 2013, but in honor of the Fourth of July and all the grilling this weekend entails, we've reposted our chat here for your entertainment and education.

It's a big weekend for cookouts, and in honor of that we checked in with Fritz Usinger, president of Usinger's, and asked him for a little advice.

Turns out Usinger, not surprisingly as a fourth-generation sausage maker, had lots of thoughts on grilling, but wanted to make one thing clear: His perspective might be different because of his love for and commitment to the product.

"My way is not the only way," says Usinger. "There's my disclaimer."

That said, Usinger spoke for almost an hour on his personal beliefs about grilling – and more. We learned a lot.

OnMilwaukee: Do you grill fresh brats differently from pre-cooked?

Fritz Usinger: Yes. Usinger's has both, and the methods of preparing are very different. Pre-cooked, of course, is easier because all the consumer has to do is brown and serve. A fresh brat is raw sausage and spices in a casing and takes more time and attention. It has a much longer cooking time, because it must be cooked all the way through.

My method for grilling a fresh brat is 'low and slow.' It's the opposite of grilling a steak, which you sear right away to seal in the juices and then cook at a lower temperature. With a fresh bratwurst, it has to acclimate to the heat slowly. Too much heat too quickly can cause the brat to swell so much that it will break the casing, which is what we are really trying to avoid. If the casing breaks, all of the juices and spices go into the grill.

So with a gas grill, you slowly turn up the heat. With a charcoal grill, you start with the brats on the outside of the grill and slowly move them toward the (much hotter) center.

How long do you grill a brat?

I have a 'two beer method.' The time it takes me to drink two beers – and I'm not talking about slamming a beer like a 21-year-old, I'm talking about …

Rage Room MKE is ready for your fury.
Rage Room MKE is ready for your fury. (Photo: Royal Brevvaxling)

Rage Room MKE invites you to smash the crap out of their stuff

The world has gone bananas, so if you find yourself wanting to smash things more than usual, it’s perfectly understandable. But rather than destroying personal or public property, Rage Room MKE invites you to their facility to beat the crap out of their junk.

Rage Rooms have opened worldwide – including one in Bay View – in the past few years and offer spaces to safely vent frustrations and have fun through bashing breakable items with bats and clubs.

At Rage Room MKE, which recently opened in a warehouse space in Butler, three smash-tabular experiences are available. The "Free-style Rage" room allows smashers to pick a box of glass and ceramic items – the boxes are filled with different fragile items from small plates to large vases – and destroy them with a variety of blunt objects.

There’s also a "Bad Day At The Office" rage room that’s aptly set up like a corporate workspace with a computer, telephone, desk, lamp and other office-y items to demolish. "The Lane of Pain" invites folks to throw items at scores of glass bottles and is smartly sponsored by Central Standard Distillery.

Participants wear suits, helmets, gloves and closed-toe shoes to ensure safety. The rooms are disinfected with an anti-microbial system every 90 days as well as given daily deep cleans.

The smashable items are retrieved from companies who empty out houses. Once smashed, the remains are recycled rather than brought to a landfill.

Rage Room Milwaukee can accommodate individuals, couples and groups of all sizes.

"People come here mostly for entertainment and because it’s such a unique experience, but many people have told me afterward that they also got out stress and frustrations," says chief smashing officer, Patrick Nienow. "There’s therapy mixed in with the fun."

For hours, rates and more information, go here.

Take a look at some smashing in action with this video featuring the author’s son, Levi Edler: