Lightning bugs are not insects like flies, despite what their name would imply. They belong to the order Coleoptera, which also includes ladybugs, emerald ash borers, and boll weevils, as nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae. Fireflies are, in essence, flying, soft-bodied insects. Even the scientific name of the insect, Lampyridae, which is also its family name, derives from the Greek word “lampein,” which means “to shine.” What could possibly be more enchanted than a July nighttime firefly light display? Just keep in mind that you can only keep fireflies you catch for a day or two in a jar (with the lid punctured to let air in and a moist paper towel on the bottom). Want to know more about fireflies? In this article, you will come to know about the lovely facts about fireflies that you might be unaware of. Let’s start!
Why do Fireflies glow?
It turns out that it’s actually the result of a complicated chemical reaction taking place inside of their bodies, so it’s not quite as mystical after all. You see, luciferin is a substance found in the abdomen of fireflies. Their abdomen lights up as a result of the chemical process that occurs when that chemical reacts with oxygen and an enzyme called luciferase. When a chemical light is produced by a process within a living organism, it is known as bioluminescence. Bioluminescence, which is most frequently observed on dry land in the glow of a firefly, is actually much more prevalent underwater in many types of mushrooms, fish, and other marine fauna. Bioluminescence is a “cold light” since it doesn’t emit heat like, say, light from a bulb would. It’s also a good thing because a firefly wouldn’t be able to survive if it emitted heat in addition to its shine.
Facts about fireflies
Without observing and, occasionally, capturing fireflies, no summer evening is complete. About 2000 different species of lightning bugs exist, and scientists still don’t fully understand them. The magical summer appeal of fireflies’ flitting, glittering lights. Despite the fact that lightning bugs are widespread in nature, there are certain things you may not know about them. Following is the list of amazing and intriguing facts about fireflies; nature’s shining marvel:
Bioluminescence describes fireflies
According to research, the light is created when oxygen is combined with an energy-producing molecule called adenosine triphosphate, a pigment called luciferin, and an enzyme called luciferase. Uric acid crystals, which are found in the light-producing cells and shine the light away from the firefly’s body, make up the last component of the formula. (The firefly’s component that emits light is known as a photic organ.) Light is produced by the enzyme luciferin, which is located in the firefly’s abdomen and tail region, when it reacts with oxygen, calcium, and adenosine triphosphate. All of this takes place in the insect’s “glow organ,” which is governed by the firefly and is situated in the last two or three abdominal segments. It doesn’t have lungs, so it “breathes” oxygen through its muscles, which allows it to start or stop the glowing at any time.
Fireflies are beetles actually rather than flies
Fireflies can more easily be distinguished from beetles up close. They also have stiffened forewings, much like all other beetles. Fireflies balance themselves in flight using their forewings, also known as elytra. Lightning bugs are not insects like flies, despite what their name would imply. Fireflies are, in essence, flying, soft-bodied insects. Even the scientific name of the insect, Lampyridae, which is also its family name, derives from the Greek word “lampein,” which means “to shine.”
Finding a partner is the main goal for male fireflies
Facts About Fireflies: One thing—reproduction—is at the heart of their nocturnal flights, the intensity of their glow, and the patterns of their flashing. These boys are ready to get married. The females usually sit still and only glance back when they notice a man putting on a very stunning display.
Each species of firefly has a distinctive flash pattern
Each male employs a “flash fingerprint” unique to its species as they fly through the air looking for a mate. Some species of fireflies, according to the American Museum of Natural History, only make a single flash, while others produce “flash trains” of timed flashes, fly in distinctive J-shaped patterns, or shake their abdomens to make them appear to be twinkling. These different patterns can be used by scientists to estimate the number of species present in a region. A category of beetle known as firefly has more than 2,000 different species. Despite their name, only a few species give birth to glowing adults. For instance, fireflies in the western United States are unable to emit light.
They are exceptionally effective source of light
Facts About Fireflies: The most effective light on earth is produced by fireflies. The National Wildlife Federation claims that practically all of the energy produced by this chemical process is released as light, as opposed to an incandescent light bulb, which only releases 10% of its energy as light and loses the remaining 90% as heat. They only generate around 1/80,000th of the heat produced by a typical household candle because they cannot survive if their bodies become as hot as a light bulb.
Western U.S. fireflies don’t light up
On every continent bar Antarctica, fireflies can be found in temperate and tropical environments. According to the Xerces Society, more than 2,000 species have been discovered worldwide, with roughly 170 of those species documented alone in the United States and Canada. While there are fireflies on the West Coast as well, not all of them light up. In the United States, they are primarily found in the moist environs of the East Coast. The California Center for Natural History claims that Western fireflies only shine as larvae.
Not every firefly emits heat
One of the most amazing facts about fireflies is that not everyone from them shines. The west contains a lot of fireflies, but they don’t light up like they do in the eastern states. The daytime is typically when those who cannot produce light are most active. Pheromones are used by non-bioluminescent fireflies to draw in partners.
They have awful flavor
Facts About Fireflies: These summertime insects shouldn’t be roasted, baked, or cooked, unlike cicadas. The flavor of a firefly will undoubtedly be harsh if you do attempt to eat one. Some animals may even be poisoned by the bugs. Blood dribbles are released when fireflies are attacked. Chemicals in the blood are what give it its poisonous flavor and unpleasant taste. The majority of animals are aware of this and refrain from eating fireflies.
Fireflies communicate with one another through light
Another from interesting facts about fireflies is the way they communicate. Although they also communicate for other purposes, such as to defend territory and scare off predators, fireflies primarily generate light to attract partners. In some species of firefly, only one sex glows. However, in the majority, both sexes glow. Men frequently fly while females wait for attractive males in trees, shrubs, and grasses. She will use one of her own flashes to indicate it if she discovers one.
“Cold light” is produced by fireflies
Do you know what is cold light? The world’s most energy-efficient lights are firefly lights, which release light in its entirety. Contrast that with an incandescent bulb, which emits 90% of its energy as light, and a fluorescent bulb, which releases 10% of its energy as light and the remaining 90% as heat. Scientists refer to firefly lights as “cold lights” since they don’t emit heat.
Luciferase and Luciferin are found in firefly’s tail
Under the correct circumstances, luciferin glows and is heat resistant. An enzyme called luciferase causes light to emit. A molecule in the firefly’s body called ATP transforms into energy and starts the glow. ATP is a component of all living things, not just fireflies.
Certain species coordinate their flashing
In search of a particular species of lightning bug that flashes in unison, hundreds of visitors visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park every summer. They are known as synchronous fireflies, also known as Photinus carolinus, and they coordinate their blinking with those around them to illuminate the forest. Only the two-week mating time sees the occurrence. The Great Smoky Mountains’ temperature and soil moisture are suspected to play a role in why these fireflies coordinate their light patterns, according to the National Park Service.
Fireflies maybe poisonous
Facts About Fireflies: Fireflies not only taste bad, but they may also hurt people. Reflex bleeding occurs when fireflies are attacked by predators. They exude drops of blood that are deadly to vertebrates, including lizards and occasionally birds, due to the bitter-tasting compounds they carry. Although eating a firefly probably wouldn’t result in death, it is still not advisable to do so.
Lifespan of Fireflies is usually short
Fireflies can live up to a year from the time they hatch until they become adults, but only for around two months of that time can they fly and lay eggs. They spend the winter and early spring hiding out in underground burrows as larvae, emerge as adults to rapidly lay eggs (approximately 500 per female, on average), and then perish five to thirty days later.
Firefly eggs glow
Not just adult fireflies shine in the dark. In some species, even the eggs and larvae produce light. Eggs of fireflies have been seen to flash in response to vibrations or light tapping.
Some fireflies are aquatic
Though many species deposit their eggs in water, others lay them in trees and in burrows where they survive as larvae. These aquatic larvae crawl at the bottom of the water and emit green light. They often feed on aquatic snails before making their way to solid ground to begin their next stage of development. Even their gills develop. They are known as Aquatica lateralis, and they can be found in Korea, Japan, and Russia.
They eat snails, slugs, and occasionally nothing at all
Facts About Fireflies: According to The National Wildlife Federation, firefly larvae often feed on slugs, snails, and worms by injecting their prey with a chemical that renders them immobile and liquid. However, as they age, they switch to pollen and nectar, occasionally engaging in cannibalism or even ceasing to eat altogether because they have already ingested enough nutrition as larvae to sustain them for the duration of their brief adult lives.
Their population is dwindling
The harvesting of luciferase from fireflies, light pollution, habitat damage, and climate change are some of the factors contributing to the decline in firefly populations. When firefly habitats are destroyed for the construction of highways or other projects, they don’t move to a new location; instead, they just vanish.
Why are fireflies disappearing?
Fireflies’ glimmering lights are used by both male and female insects to communicate, locate mates, deter intruders, and establish territory. Those bright communications are synchronized, sometimes across enormous groups of thousands of bugs, depending on the species. According to research, light pollution, including permanent (such as streetlights or lights from a house) and transient (such as car headlights), make it more difficult for fireflies to communicate. Young fireflies can’t be born if the parents of the firefly can’t find each other to mate because the car headlights confuse them.