Fireflies will always have a special place in my heart because they remind me of Summer nights when I was little. Watching, chasing and trying to collect the magical glowing creatures was always a fun way to end the night. But other than the fact that they glow, I didn’t know too much about fireflies. So I decided to find out more and here is what I found.
1. There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies, a type of beetle. Despite their name, only some species produce adults that glow. Fireflies in the western United States, for example, lack the ability to produce light.
2. Males that do glow use their flash to attract females. Each species has its own pattern of light flashing.
3. European female fireflies remain flightless into adulthood and take on the form of a worm that glows rather than flashes.
4. In some places at some times, fireflies synchronize their flashing.
5. Firefly light can be yellow, green or orange.
6. Firefly larvae may glow, even some that live underground or under water. They use the light to communicate to predators that they aren’t tasty.
7. Larvae are carnivorous and particularly enjoy snails. Adult fireflies usually live off of nectar and pollen, but some don’t feed at all. A few firefly species are also carnivorous as adults. They don’t eat snails, though—they eat fireflies of other genera.
8. Fireflies are among the many species that are bioluminescent, meaning that they can produce their own light.
9. A chemical reaction within the firefly’s light organ produces the light—oxygen combines with calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP—the energy-carrying molecule of all cells) and a chemical called luciferin, when an enzyme called luciferase is present.
10. Fireflies can be poisonois. Not only do fireflies taste nasty, they can actually kill. When predators attack, fireflies kick in to a process called “reflex bleeding.” They shed drops of blood that contain bitter-tasting chemicals that are poisonous to vertebrates, including lizards and sometimes birds