Why do fireflies glow and when do they come out?

FIREFLIES have awed people for thousands of years with the extraordinary play of light they emit at night.

But why do fireflies glow the way they do and when do they come out?

A firefly's glow is the result of a chemical reaction


A firefly’s glow is the result of a chemical reactionPhoto credit: Reuters

Why do fireflies glow?

A firefly’s glow is actually the result of a chemical reaction.

This light is caused by the organic compound luciferin found in the abdomen of fireflies.

When air enters the firefly’s abdomen, it reacts with the compound, creating a stunning yellow glow.

Some experts believe the firefly’s glow could be a safety measure, warning predators of their bitter taste.

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However, many predators, such as frogs, don’t mind the taste, and some eat so many fireflies that they start to glow.

Fireflies also glow for romance, with males using the glow as light signals to attract mates.

While experts say women attract men with their own lightning bolts.

While women use their glow for even more sinister purposes – eating men alive.

They do this by blinking, which attracts a male to their fate.

The glow generates very little heat, although it appears warm.

When do fireflies come out?

In the US, fireflies come out in early summer.

This could be between the third week of May and the third week of June.

Their larvae live underground during the winter and then mature in the spring.

And then emerge in glorious performances in the early summer months as night falls.

They also fly around during the day, but their light is not as easy to see.

Fireflies live about two months before dying, which is just long enough to mate and lay eggs.

Why are fireflies also called lightning beetles?

Fireflies are also known as lightning bugs – they’re the same thing.

But the different terms simply have to do with different regional dialects.

According to research from Cambridge University, the terms lightning bug and firefly are often used interchangeably in the United States, although in some areas one was more popular than the other.

The university asked 10,000 Americans across the country, “What do you call that insect that flies around in the summer and has a rear end that glows in the dark?”

About 40 percent of respondents used both terms interchangeably, and 30 percent said “firefly.”

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The remaining 30 percent said “lightning beetle,” while “firefly” was most popular in the western half of the country, while “lightning beetle” dominated the Midwest, South and mid-Atlantic.

It is estimated that there are over 2000 species of fireflies living in temperate and tropical zones around the world. Why do fireflies glow and when do they come out?


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