Fun Finds Friday: Lightning Bugs

[dot_recommends] August 20, 2021 Manufacturing Trends

Behind the Bugs

image shows fireflies or lightning bugs lighting up a dim forest

Did you know that Lightning Bugs are actually Beetles? Consider these fun facts about these delightful insects:

  • The family we call “Lightning Bugs” or “Fireflies” has more than 2,000 diverse species.
  • Fireflies live on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Contrary to popular thinking, there are fireflies in the Western United States. They are just harder to spot there because they flash while on the ground.
  • They spend most of their lives in the larva stage, nearly 1-2 years. Adult Lightning Bugs may only live a few weeks.
  • They light up in many different colors across species!

That’s right, the light colors of lightning bugs go beyond the familiar yellow to include red, orange, green, and blue. The rare Blue Ghost Firefly lives only in the Appalachian Mountains of the U.S.

So, how and why do they glow?

This colorful glow comes from the use of bioluminescence. This process turns chemical energy into radiant energy, creating light we can see. Fireflies use chemical energy incredibly efficiently, converting almost 100% of it to light. Compared to the 10% energy-to-light conversion of an incandescent bulb, that’s impressive!

Fireflies also glow while in the larva stage. According to Stephanie Vaz, an entomologist who studies fireflies, “All larvae glow together, even if just one larva is disturbed. So we believe that it’s a way to protect each other. In other words, they are saying, don’t eat me. If you do that, you’re going to die.”

Flashing bugs want to find a mate. Once they reach adulthood and fly around, lightning bugs flash their lights in patterns to attract mates. They need dark places to successfully attract a mate and keep the species going.

Do You Enjoy Lightning Bugs?

Yes? I do too. We can help make sure we have plenty of them around for years to come by reducing pesticides and providing more dark places in our landscapes. Learn more at this episode of Shortwave – a fun science podcast from NPR.

I wish you a very happy rest of your summer. Enjoy the bright flashes of light in the night sky!

–parin
Managing Partner

 

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