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