Know and Understand Why a Firefly Lights Up

Edited by Debbie, Charmed, Rebecca M., Jonathan V. Lomabao and 2 others

Who would ever think that a tiny insect would be flashing a little light on and off in their belly? How fascinated we all were when we were little, to see this little bug light up in front of our eyes! We would always go out with our glass jars and catch them as soon as it got dark. What exactly is this little bug called? Of course, the firefly! They are not flies, but are beetles. What makes this little living lamp turn on their glowing light? The real reason why fireflies show their glowing light is to attract the opposite sex in the dark, and to mate with them. The male firefly is found in North America.

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The fireflies light is fueled by a compound called luciferin. When these chemicals mix in with oxygen, this makes light. The color of the light is usually yellow, some green, some blue or orange. There are over two thousand species of fireflies, and they all have their own flashing pattern. When the female firefly sees the glowing gleam she is watching for, she sends out a lighting blink. She does not usually respond to a firefly of a different species, just her own. When the female firefly sees the lighting flash she is looking for, she keeps her light turned on until the male finds her, and then they start mating.

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There is a female firefly of a different species that you can call a carnivorous seductress. She is able to imitate the flash responses of many female fireflies but of other species. Then she seduces the males to her, and they are taken and eaten!

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There are also the glowing firefly insects of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. These fireflies can change their flash pattern so that they blink together at the same time. They have been seen to light up whole trees with the constant neon lights flashing.

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What are some other cool facts about the firefly?

Interesting Facts

1. Not All Fireflies Will Flash. There are some adult fireflies that live in the western part of North America that do not use light to communicate.

2. Fireflies Make a Change from a Carnivore to a Herbivore. In their larvae stage the consume things such as ants and worms, but in their adult stage they become herbivores, eating only pollen and nectar.

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3. A Firefly Makes a "Cool" Light that is 100% natural in Their Body. It is not heat, but a chemical reaction.

4. The larvae and/or the eggs of some species of fireflies also glow. These larvae are called glow worms though they aren't true worms.

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5. Fireflies also warn other fireflies of danger.

6. The chemicals that fireflies produce are used in some medical and forensic testing. Luciferin is used in some types of forensic testing and luciferase (an enzyme is used in the field of medicine to detect the element magnesium.

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7. The firefly is Pennsylvania's state insect.

8. There are fireflies on nearly every continent with the exception of Antarctica.

Fun Tips

  • Have a fun time with your children, and play a game called "Spot the Firefly" at night.
  • Have fun counting how many times a firefly flashes its light!

Questions and Answers

Firefly- light communication?


Fireflies are natural light producing insects and they are often called "lightning bugs". During the day, these insects looks simple and ordinary similar to other insects, but during night time, their true beauty begins to emerge which makes them one of the most beautiful insects worldwide because of their natural mysterious lights. These natural lights produces by the fireflies by a process called "bioluminescence" serves as a way of communication by the fireflies.

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These are some noted light communications by the fireflies:

1. Serves as a mating signal.

Male fireflies often uses their lights to show their availability for mating and the female fireflies responds by glowing their lights back to indicate their location to the male fireflies.

2. To catch other insects for food.

Other genus of fireflies (genus Photuris) often uses their bioluminescence to catch other different genus of fireflies as their food. These fireflies often mimic the light signal patterns of different genus of fireflies to lure them.

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3. Serves as a defensive signal.

The fireflies uses their light to ward off predators which signals them that their bodies contain chemicals harmful to the predators.

The light communication of fireflies naturally occurs between fireflies visually.

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Categories : Animals & Pets

Recent edits by: Eng, Jonathan V. Lomabao, Rebecca M.

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