The summer months bring out sunshine, heat, and bugs. Yup, bugs. The not-so-fun ones include bees and mosquitoes, but the bugs that we most look forward to are the ones that provide a burst of light on a warm evening walk. Fireflies, lightning bugs, glow flies, moon bugs, and golden sparklers are just some of the fun names for this little insect, but whatever you call them, do you know what makes them shine bright? Or any of the other interesting facts about this bug that isn’t actually a bug? Let’s learn together!
1. Fireflies are not actually flies or bugs. What? This seems shocking, but they’re actually in the beetle family. Like all other beetles, they have the hardening wings that are only used for balance, while the wings beneath are what are used to fly through the air.
2. Fireflies “talk” by flashing their lights. Not only are they sending messages to each other to attract mates, but also to let others know about guarding territory or warning of predators.
3. Not all fireflies light up. Depending on the species, only one gender emits that little tinted light. Even though in most cases both light up, sometimes just the male or female has this pleasure.
4. Two different chemicals cause the firefly to light up. Yup, just two. It’s luciferase and luciferin. Luciferin is a heat resistant chemical that glows under the right conditions. Luciferase, on the other hand, is an enzyme that causes light emission. ATP, another chemical that’s in the firefly’s body, and is also in all living things, converts from its chemical form to energy that then initiates the glow.
5. Fireflies eat each other. I wish I was making this up, but it’s true. Fireflies are mainly carnivorous. And adult fireflies aren’t usually seen to eat anything since they’re only meant to live long enough to mate and lay eggs.
It’s amazing how this little creature that I used to spend hours trying to catch has so many interesting facts. Did you know any of these facts ?