“How many people go on Pirates of the Caribbean and all they talk about are those lights in the beginning?” says Taylor, shaking his head. “You know, when you’re in the boat and floating through the loading zone?”
Other customers appreciate the fireflies as a species in and of themselves. “Dear Stephen,” writes the curator of the Natural Science Center of Greensboro, “I wanted to write and tell you how much we are enjoying your Firefly Magic lights. Entry into Bug Discovery brings the visitor face to face with a giant goliath beetle model (which children can ride), an enormous, lifelike praying mantis, and even an 8-foot black widow spider.... Your lights are installed in camouflage netting and on artificial shrubs against a darkened backdrop.”
Stephen Taylor: Lighting up backyards everywhere, one fly at a time
“They look just like the fireflies I always see when I travel to the Amazon or Uganda,” writes someone else.
Accordingly, the Taylors spend a lot of time thinking about verisimilitude. “We would sit here in the backyard and have a glass of wine. We’d have them out in the wisteria. We’d ask each other, how do we feel about them?” Kim explains.
“What was interesting was when the flickering was too frenetic, too fast, we realized that was worse. It doesn’t give you that natural sensation,” Taylor adds.
He plans to add wings to the design. They invited the neighbors over for burgers one night without telling them they were about to be market research, letting them be surprised by the geographical impossibility of lightning bugs in Southern California.
“How I kind of envision myself as I’ve gone forward with this, what’s the word ... idol? My inspiration is Harland Sanders, the colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He lost his business when he was retirement age. He was hit by loss of livelihood and had to come up with something new.” Taylor squeezes past the tower of boxes and sinks into the couch. He has sold a lot of units in his lifetime and he hopes to sell a lot more. “Or we’ll never be able to entertain again in our living room.”
In the hall, the fireflies are flickering in the fake potted plants. Evening is falling.