12 Fascinating Facts About Fireflies


Published:

The flying, twinkling lights of fireflies are a mystical summer attraction. While lightning bugs are common in nature, there’s a few things you might not know about them.

Here are 12 fun and interesting facts about nature’s glowing wonder:

1. They are beetles

The name “firefly” is a little misleading. Fireflies are nocturnal members of Lampyridae (which in Greek means “to shine”) a family of winged beetles. But “firebeetles” doesn’t have the same ring to it. There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies. And only some of those species have the ability to light up (see No. 3).

2. Fireflies are just one type of bioluminescent species

Fireflies are probably one of the more popular of these species, but they’re definitely not alone in their ability to light up. Most of their bioluminescent peers live in the ocean so people don’t have as much contact with them. Their light is created by a chemical reaction during which oxygen combines with calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and luciferin with the help of the enzyme luciferase. When they are larvae, fireflies use their bioluminescence to scare off predators.

3. Not all fireflies have the “fire”

Fireflies aren’t just abundant in the eastern states, the west has them as well, they just don’t light up over there. Those who don’t produce light are usually most active during the day. Non-bioluminescent fireflies use pheromones to attract mates.

4. Scientists discovered luciferase because of fireflies

Photo credit: firefly.orgWhen it was first discovered, the only way to obtain the chemical was to extract it from fireflies themselves. Eventually, scientists figured out how to create synthetic luciferase. Some people still collect the enzyme from the flying lanterns. Luciferase is used in scientific research for food safety testing and some forensic tests.

5. Fireflies are energy efficient

Fireflies’ lights are the most efficient lights in the world. One-hundred percent of the energy created is emitted through the light. In comparison, an incandescent bulb emits 10 percent of its energy as light and a fluorescent bulb emits 90 percent of its energy through light. Fireflies’ efficiency is partly do to luciferin’s heat resistant properties.

6. Their light shows are mating acts

Most of the fireflies flying around are males looking for a mate. Each species has a specific light pattern that they use to communicate with each other. Once a female spots a male she likes, she will respond with the same light pattern. Usually females are perched on plants, waiting for a mate.

7. Some species synchronize their flashing

Scientists aren’t sure why fireflies do this, but some theories include competition or to make them more noticeable. If a bunch of male fireflies are flashing the pattern at the same time, they are more likely to attract females. The only species of fireflies in America that do this are the Photinus carolinus. They live in the Great Smoky Mountains and the U.S. National Park Service organizes watch parties for the shows.

8. Not all firefly light looks the same

Each species has their own specific color of light they produce. Some glow blue or green while others glow orange or yellow.

9. They taste disgusting

Unlike cicadas, these summer bugs should not be cooked, baked or grilled. If you do try to eat a firefly, it will probably taste bitter. The beetles can even be poisonous to some animals. When fireflies are attacked, they shed drops of blood. The blood contains chemicals that create the bitter taste and poison. Most animals have learned this and avoid munching on fireflies.

10. Fireflies sometimes practice cannibalism

Photo credit: firefly.orgWhen fireflies are still in the larvae stage, they snack on snails. Usually as they mature, they move away from meat. Scientists believe adult fireflies live off of nectar and pollen or they don’t eat at all. But others, especially the Photuris fireflies enjoy their own kind. Photuris females often eat males of other genera. They attract the unsuspecting males by mimicking their light pattern.

11. Their numbers are declining

There are several reasons why firefly populations are declining, including climate change and the harvesting of luciferase from them (see No. 4), light pollution and habitat destruction. When firefly habitats are destroyed for roads or other construction, they don’t migrate to a new spot, they simply disappear.

12. Enjoying the light show in your yard can help scientists

Your observations can help scientists learn more about fireflies and why they’re disappearing. Enjoy the show and help save the insect at the same time.

See also:
Two Billion People Eat Insects And You Can Too
We Must Save The Honeybees And Here’s How You Can Help

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

January 17, 2020

Ready yourself for a challenging but potentially fruitful day. With the Capricorn Sun close by Saturn and Pluto, the testing early morning Last Quarter Libra Moon prompts a serious assessment of priorities, tactics and partners. Some folks overcome…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2020

We welcome back, Marcia Shaw of Goshen as she shares the beautiful energies of her Core Harmonizer. This portable unit, developed by Ross Newkirk (a former Chester resident), creates a blissful...

Cost: Suggested Donation $10

Where:
Center for Inner Wellness
26B Main Street
Chester, MA  01011
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Inner Wellness
Telephone: 413-315-1133
Contact Name: Maureen Suriner
Website »

More information

In level I, we learned how our ancestor's beliefs, thoughts, feelings, emotions, unresolved issues and even gifts are passed down energetically through our DNA. In this advanced course, we will...

Cost: $85

Where:
The Dragonfly Shop
Keene, NH


Sponsor: Dragonfly Shop
Telephone: (603) 354-3471
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

We continue the practice of intuitive self expression using the vehicle of collage work. We will be guided by the principles of Soul Collage and led by Amy Shuman to create collage cards....

Cost: Suggested Donation $10

Where:
Center for Inner Wellness
26 Main Street
Chester, MA  01011
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Inner Wellness
Telephone: 413-315-1133
Contact Name: Maureen Suriner
Website »

More information

I'm certain you've heard the saying, "Why worry when you can pray." And I am more certain that you have never heard anyone say, "Why worry when you can Tachyonize!" Yet,...

Cost: Free (preregistration is required)

Where:
The Sanctuary for Celestial Empowerment
10 Grassmere Avenue
Suite #300
West Hartford, CT  06110
View map »


Sponsor: Psychotherapy Healing Services, LLC
Telephone: 860-798-6176
Contact Name: Celeste E. Mattingly, LCSW
Website »

More information

Join us for some pampering time to refresh and renew you! After all the hustle, bustle and holiday indulging come and detox and refresh body and soul! Get your new year readings chakra...

Cost: $60: 3 pack service special; $25: single service

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers — Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

How wi-fi, smart meters, cell antennas and 5g present risks to our health, privacy, security and the planet—and available solutions. Public forum with leading national experts on:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Willard School
185 Powder Mill Rd
Concord, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The EMR Network, Wireless Education, and the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Mindfulness meditation as a secular practice is enjoying its moment in the sun. Given the clamor for more mindfulness as a performance improvement tool, it behooves us to remember and emphasize the...

Cost: Suggested donation for general attendance is $15. CE credits available for $30.

Where:
CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
1035 Cambridge Street
Suite 21A
Cambridge, MA  02141
View map »


Sponsor: Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy
Website »

More information

Discover Beauty. Discover Goodness. Discover Yourself. Your soul’s gifts are waiting. Breathe. Find stillness. The spark you need to ignite your life is here, within. Max Meditation...

Cost: $15

Where:
Modern Mystery School Boston
132 Charles St
3rd Floor
Auburndale, MA  02466
View map »


Sponsor: Modern Mystery School Boston
Telephone: 617-694-0994
Contact Name: Jordan Bain
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Acupuncture is a part of ancient Chinese medicine that has been used in this country for decades. Hear from Brenda Scott, LAc, a Waltham-based acupuncturist to learn what acupuncture can be used to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3441
Contact Name: Debora Hoffman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Do you have questions related to divorce and asset division, retirement accounts or the QDRO process? About this event: Please join us for an evening dedicated to one of the most important...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

World famous seminars (www.understandingofmusic.com) turns beginners into musicians, revitalizes and inspires even pro musicians.

Where:
Sheraton 4 Points
Revere, MA


Telephone: (781) 599-1476
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We all agree that we are supposed to eat a healthy diet, but with all of the conflicting information and fad diets out there, it can be hard to even know what that is. In this class we will talk...

Cost: $20

Where:
Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
411 West Main Street, Suite 2R (rear of building)
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »


Sponsor: Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
Telephone: 508-393-1212
Contact Name: Kim Flaherty
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Saturday January 18th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm and Sunday January 19th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm In Reiki Master Level you will learn the master symbols, receive the master level attunement and learn how...

Cost: $295 for new students, $195 for the refresher option

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Welcome to 2020 and a new energy decade. 2020 ushers in the Age of Aquarius – a time of our collective awakening to higher consciousness. Simply put, our systems are being upgraded. Time to...

Cost: $60

Where:
Private Office
6 Royal Crest Drive
#11
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Diana Harris
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in crafting...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $40 per person or $35 more than one

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags