Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fire flies are boys!

Whether you call this beautiful little creature a lightning bug, glow fly, or luciérnaga, fireflies are glittering up the prairies at Riveredge and fields throughout the county!

Ok, they aren’t ALL boys, but females only light up close to the ground.

But these males have their beady little heads focused only on finding a lady. Males flash a species-specific “morse code” in the air and females respond from the ground. Unfortunately, success for our firefly friend means an untimely death. After mating, his lady love will eat him.

Both are luminescent because of light-generating bacteria in their abdomens. Luciferase (an enzyme) reacts with luciferin (a chemical) and creates a “cold” light. Unlike the inefficient light bulb that wastes energy as heat, lightning beetles waste only 3-8%.

Stop by Friday night for stargazing and see acres of blinking beetles in action.

Larva, also called a glowworm

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