The Firefly: Gorgeous and Glowing

Glow fly. Moon bug. Fire devil. Lighting bug. Golden sparkler.

But perhaps best known as the firefly. This gorgeous glowing bug is known around the world by a multitude of names and comes in dozens of varieties, each with its own unique flash pattern.

So why the flash? To get the girls, of course. The ritual is pretty simple: the males flash hello and the females respond with a howdy-do flicker. One species even flashes in unison –– they’re found in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, and in the Smoky Mountains of the United States, where die-hard fans travel in droves to witness entire hillsides light up like electronic, synchronized flash mobs.

The glow from a firefly is produced in their lantern, an organ in their abdomen. The light is actually a form of bioluminescence, a chemical reaction that releases particles of light and heat. Other animals like certain species of plankton, shrimp, worms, etc. produce similar glows.

Some interesting facts about fireflies: they’re beetles, not flies. They take anywhere from a year to two years to mature from larvae (think glowworms) and feast on snails and small insects while they grow. As adults they live for just 21 days and don’t eat a thing.

So on behalf of everyone who has ever enjoyed the exceptional sight of fireflies on a summer night, we’d like to say this: many thanks flying friends, for the superb show.

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