Fire Flies



Interesting Information About Fire Flies
Fireflies belong to the beetle order Coleoptera as they are winged beetles. Another common name for them are lightning bugs as they use bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies get their name from producing a cold light with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies from their lower abdomen and that can show as a yellow, green, or pale red glow.
Fireflies can be found in tropical and temperate environments with there being around 2000 species. The majority of fireflies can be found in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where there larva have plenty of food sources. The larva of fireflies are often called glowworms as they also emit light. In the majority of species of fireflies, both the male and the female can fly with very few species being limited to only the male being able to fly.
Fireflies normally have a soft body that is brown in colour with wings that are more leathery than other beetles. Female adult fireflies will often resemble males very closely where very few resemble larva to a certain degree. Female fireflies that resemble larva can be told apart by their eyes as the mature females will have compound eyes. The more common fireflies are nocturnal with very few being diurnal (out in the daytime, sleeping at night). The majority of diurnal fireflies are non-luminescent with only if you having a slight glow when in shadows.

Only a few days after mating will the female lay her fertilised eggs in the ground just above or just below the surface. After around 3 to 4 weeks the eggs hatch into larva that are commonly called glowworms that will feed until the end of the summer. Many firefly larva are specialised predators and will feed on other larva, snails and slugs. Some larva have grooved mandibles that they use to feed and also inject digestive fluids into their prey. As winter approaches the larva will go into hibernation with some species hibernating for several years. In order to survive over winter they may borrow underground or find places under the bark of trees. The larva then emerge in the spring and feed for several weeks before they pupate that can take between one and 2 1/2 weeks to become adults. An adults firefly diet varies with some being predatory and others feeding on plant pollen and or nectar.
The majority of fireflies are unsavoury and sometimes poisonous to predators thanks in part to a group of steroid pheromones.

Chemical light production.
The light produced by fireflies is a result of a chemical reaction called bioluminescence. The process happens normally in the fireflies abdomen in specialised light emitting organs. The enzyme luciferase acts on the luciferin, in the presence of magnesium ions, ATP, and oxygen to produce light. A fireflies luciferase is used in such things as forensics while the enzyme is used in medicine most prominently for the detection of ATP or magnesium. All larva of fireflies glow as a warning to predators and unlike many other insects that may have bright colourings but are harmless, firefly larva are in fact this distasteful and toxic.
It was first believed that the same reason applied to adult fireflies, however it is now believed the primary purpose for adults to glow is for selecting a mate. Fireflies have a variety of ways in which to communicate when courting such as a steady glow, flashing and other chemical signals.
Many tropical fireflies such as those found in south-east Asia will often synchronise their flashes among groups in a spontaneous order.

Some species of firefly females have been found to mimic the mating flash of lightning bugs to coax them close enough for them to prey on.

The majority of fireflies do not produce light and are out during the day with a few that are out during the day in shady places producing a small amount of light. Fireflies that don't produce light rely mainly on pheromones to signal mates.

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