Here are some fun firefly facts that I collected a while ago…
Fireflies aren’t really flies and glowworms aren’t really worms. Fireflies (or lightning bugs) are soft-bodied beetles in the family Lampyridae.
Glowworms are actually young fireflies, the luminous larvae that squirm forth from firefly eggs. These grublike wonders live in the ground eating slugs and snails for almost two years until they metamorphose into pupa, and then fireflies.
Fireflies are mostly active at night when they zoom around flashing their taillights and eating nothing.
Fireflies use the light on their lower abdomen segments to attract mates. (Since glowworms don’t mate, no one knows exactly why they glow.) Fireflies of the same species recognize each other by the number of flashes used, the frequency of flashes and the color of the light.
Different species emit different colors of light such as green, amber, or yellow.
The light fireflies produce (or that any living organism produces) is called bioluminescence. It’s a chemical process in which luciferin reacts with oxygen in the presence of an enzyme called luciferase. Chemical energy from the reaction is transformed into light.
Close to 100% of the energy from the chemical reaction is given off as light. For comparison, a typical light bulb give off only 10% of its energy as light, while the rest is wasted as heat.
Fireflies control the rate of their light flashes by admitting air into the luminescent organs.
All known firefly species are bioluminescent as eggs and larvae, but some are adults are not.
Some Asian species are fully aquatic and live underwater.
Fireflies larvae are predators and feed mostly on earthworms, snails, and slugs. They can detect snail or slug slime trails and follow them to the prey. An anesthetic type substance is injected into the prey to immobilize it.
Firefly larvae live one to two years, spend about 10 days as a pupa, then live as adults for only a few days to a week.
Adult fireflies don’t bite, have no pincers, don’t attack, don’t carry disease, and are not poisonous.
Firefly larvae use their luminescence as a warning signal that communicates to predators that they taste bad because they have defensive chemicals in their bodies.
Adult fireflies use a species specific flash pattern to attract a member of the opposite sex.
In some species the female is wingless.
When fireflies are distressed they flash to warn others.
In some species, the female firefly mimics the flash of another species. When the male responds and comes to her to mate, she eats him instead.
There are about 2,000 known species of fireflies.
Fireflies are also known as Lighting Bugs.