Saturday, January 04, 2014

Kokuio (Cocuyo) is Taino

DID YOU KNOW: The word kokuio (cocuyo) is a Taino word for firefly, an insect in the Lampyridae family of the beetle order Coleoptera.  These beetles are special in that most of them have the ability to produce light called bioluminescence. In English, they are sometimes called 'lightning bugs' or 'forest stars'. There are about 2000 different species, most of which are nocturnal. Adults use flashes of light to attract mates. Also, firefly larvae flash their lights to warn predators that they are not a tasty meal. Many predators do not like the taste of firefly larvae. It is said that, traditionally, when Taino people would capture fireflies they would use a torch and call out “kokuio, kokuio!” After the koukio were captured, they were released inside the home of a Taino. The kokuio is a natural predator of mosquitos, which is very helpful in the Caribbean. Kokuio were also sometimes used inside homes as lanterns to assist when individuals were weaving and engaging in other activities in the home at night. Sometimes, mischievous Taino children were known to smear ground kokuio paste on their faces to scare their peers. On the island of Borikén, along with the word kokuio, the Taino word kukubano is also used to describe fireflies. – UCTP Taino News © 2014