Fireflies – Did You Know… #atozchallenge

Image result for image fireflies

… That 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.

I have not often seen fireflies in action. Actually I’m really not sure if the memory I think to have is a real time memory or if it was something I saw in a movie. I do think though, that it’s something incredibly beautiful and I wish I could show my children fireflies in action. One day, one day…

Here are some more cool facts about fireflies I found on the Smithsonian website:

  • Males that do glow use their flash to attract females. Each species has its own pattern of light flashing.In some places at some times, fireflies synchronize their flashing.
  • Firefly light can be yellow, green or orange.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 (they produce unpalatable, defensive steroids for protection).
  • (6) 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.Fireflies are among the many species that are bioluminescent, meaning that they can produce their own light.
  • 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.The light is the most efficient light in the world. Nearly 100 % of the energy in the chemical reaction is emitted as light.
  • Luciferase has proven to be a useful chemical in scientific research, food safety testing and forensic tests. It can be used to detect levels of ATP in cells, for example.
  • When luciferase was first discovered, the only way to obtain the chemical was from fireflies themselves. Today, synthetic luciferase is available, but some companies still harvest fireflies, which may be contributing to their decline. Other factors that may be contributing to firefly decline include light pollution and habitat destruction—if a field where fireflies live is paved over, the fireflies don’t migrate to another field, they just disappear forever.
  • Observing fireflies in your backyard can help scientists learn more about these insects and why they’re disappearing.

Find last years “F” contribution to the A to Z Challenge about fear here.
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20 thoughts on “Fireflies – Did You Know… #atozchallenge

  1. This was a real fun post. I have been very lucky to see fireflies glowing away in the dark in India and it is a beautiful sight indeed! It’s one of those things you never forget once seen…
    Also since I am a scientist and often use luciferase, I liked how you wrote about that too in your post. But we mostly use synthetic commercial luciferases these days. I’m not aware of companies that harvest fireflies anymore 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fire flies, or lightning bugs as we call them around here, are plentiful in summer. We live rurally, so we get fields full of them. I will say though, some years there are more than others. Neat little critters. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s weird that they say they don’t emit light in the Western US, I’ve seen them in Northern California and used to catch them when I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Oregon. Though admittedly that was a long time ago… And they are, of course, much more prevalent in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi (where I’ve also lived).

    I came home one night in North Carolina where we lived in a small town, and the entire yard was full of them. It was a beautiful sight — like the night sky had descended into my yard for a visit — but I was kinda worried walking through them to get to my house… I didn’t want to accidentally swallow any of them or get them into my hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In Tennessee (mid-south state in the US) my brother and I caught lightning bugs every summer. We put a few in a Mason jar and punched holes in the metal top so they could get air. Before we went in for the evening, we let them loose. We live in the mountains of North Carolina now, and there is a place not far away where you can see the synchronous fireflies. We haven’t been to see them yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fireflies are a tourist attraction in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. GSMNP is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, which is why I’d guess you had several comments from readers who live in those states. I also remember seeing them when we visited Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana, but they are not a tourist attraction there. So, if and/or when I have grandchildren, and if we’re still living close to GSMNP then, I’ll be sure to include this as an activity that we should still be able to do together with them, based on the description found here. https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm

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