In the evenings of early summer, we are treated to an unrivalled
natural light show provided by fireflies — also known as lightning
bugs or glowworms. Thousands of these insects can be seen floating
silently over meadows and lawns flashing their yellow lights.
Fireflies are members of the beetle family, Lampyridae. These soft-bodied,
nocturnal beetles are about ¼ to ½ of an inch long and
have brown or black bodies often marked with yellow or orange. In
many species, the females are unable to fly.
So how and why the flashing? A chemical reaction known as bioluminescence
takes place in the lower abdomen of the firefly, giving off a soft,
Fireflies use this flashing to attract mates. The flying males produce
a series of flashes that vary in size and brightness. When a female
recognizes an appropriate signal, she flashes back. The male then
descends to the female for mating.
Adult fireflies only live for about 5 to 30 days. They feed on nectar
or eat nothing. They do not bite, do not carry diseases, and are harmless
to humans. So enjoy the summer evening light show!